The Uber Due Process
(Impartial Hearing Officer) Ok, counselors, we are going to get this show on the road. I run a tight ship as evidenced by my last two hearings which I managed to complete in a record 39 days each. Let’s see if we can extend that a little this time. I have my eye on a new car for my husband.
(Parent attorney, who is very stylish and wearing gorgeous shoes) But your honor, my client has to get back to her job where she engages in washing the dirty feet of the impoverished and sick. Can’t we eliminate some of these repetitive witnesses?
(School District Attorney): But I need all these witnesses your honor, to prove that the cost of my client’s insurance policy which is paying for the defense of this action, was worthwhile. And besides, these witnesses will prove that this foot washing thing is the whole point. If this mom spent more time with her kid, we’d all be better off and maybe this child wouldn’t have so many behavior problems.
IHO: Well in order to keep this thing moving, I’m going to let these witnesses in, and then I’ll decide if their testimony is repetitive. If it is, I’ll ignore it but we can all bill for the time anyway. Counsel for the District, will you be using an expert witness?
SDA: Yes, your honor.
IHO: Will it be the same lovely woman who testifies at all your hearings?
SDA: Yes, your honor, the very same.
IHO: Ok, great. I know I’m gonna need to hear what she has to say. She certainly seems to be an expert in a great variety of things. Parent’s counsel, will you be using an expert?
PA: Yes your honor, and my expert has actually seen and spoken to the child.
IHO: That’s nice. Before we begin, is there any chance the parties might settle this thing?
SDA: Well, your honor, Counsel for this parent is just here to get her fees so it’s unlikely. In fact the only reason we are here is because she wants her fees. We have offered to allow Johnny to enroll in a public charter school, which I think is very generous.
PA: I object your honor. This is highly inappropriate and settlement discussions are supposed to be confidential. And besides, they haven’t offered to pay any fees.
IHO: I will take those comments for what they’re worth, Counselor. You are going to need some fees to pay for those shoes you’re wearing though, so let’s get started. Is there an opening statement for the Parent?
PA: Yes, your honor, there is. (Stands up on very high heeled shoes, 1” platform, black suede, with a studded bow on the front). This matter involves an 8 year old child with autism, ADHD, ODD, SLD, who wears glasses and is a lousy bowler. Johnny lives with his mom, Theresa, who spends her time serving the poorest of the poor, in the poorest neighborhoods in Delhi, Ohio, where they live. She is a single parent, and Johnny is her only child. Since she is poor, I’m not currently receiving any fees, though hopefully it won’t impact my ability to wear a different pair of shoes for each day of this hearing.
Johnny began in Ye Olde School District when he was 5. At that time, he was already creating scale models of the Army’s yet to be divulged hovercraft and selling them to the Chinese. Despite this accomplishment, Johnny was placed in a multihandicapped classroom when the school psychologist for YOSD evaluated him and determined that his IQ was somewhere between 25 and 35. After 3 years in the MH classroom, Johnny had set up a command center enabling both teachers and students to engage in off track betting during school hours. When the principal found out, Johnny was expelled, oh excuse me, his “placement was changed” and he was placed on home instruction. No manifestation determination was held and Mother Theresa did not agree with the change of placement. The school failed to provide a prior written notice.
The parent is requesting that Johnny be placed back into regular classes at YOSD or alternatively, be enrolled in the MIT engineering program in Boston. At this time, Johnny is not able to do anything other than calculate the odds on his poker and craps games, and read the instructions that come with his model airplane kits. His mom wants him to learn like other kids including things such as using money to make purchases instead of bets, learning how to socialize with typical children without relieving them of their lunch money, and reading Charlotte’s Web. What parent wouldn’t want that for their child? We believe the private placement is best for Johnny because currently every one of the teachers at his school owes Johnny at least $200 since the Jets failed to make the playoffs. Thank you.
IHO: And for the District?
SDA: Your honor, I don’t even know why we’re here. Oh yes, did I mention it’s because mom’s attorney wants her fees? Imagine that. She wants to get paid.
IHO: Counselor, let’s move on please.
SDA: Ah yes, Johnny. So the school psychologist was a little off in her assessment of Johnny’s skills. So what? It hasn’t hurt him. Heck, I’ve lost money to him myself, the little stinker. Frankly, I think this kid’s got a great future ahead of him. And if he hadn’t been placed in the multihandicapped room, he would not have developed the bookmaking skills which are so critical in this economy. Who would have imagined the Jets wouldn’t make it anyway? So the parent can’t show any substantive harm here your honor. Johnny is better off at home where he can participate in an online school program that will keep him out of trouble and won’t cost YOSD a dime. Certainly we can’t be expected to sit here and pay counsel’s fees… did I mention that we are only here because she wants her fees… though I wouldn’t mind just putting on the evidence because frankly my billing rate for the insurance company is so low at this point, I’d need a good 3 week hearing just to make this worthwhile.
As for the change in placement, well we had to do something to get Johnny out of there. The Superintendent is in hock way over his head.
IHO: Ok I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for the issues and 3 weeks sounds like a good round number to me. Excuse me, counselor, what is that on your client’s head?
PA: It’s a halo, your honor, and my client has tried to get rid of it but it just keeps coming back.
IHO: Counselor, I’m warning you that I will not tolerate attempts to unduly influence me…, but just in case, well, can I ask her to light a candle for me? The divisional soccer championships are coming up, and well, my son is in them, so…you understand.
PA: No problem, your honor. Theresa will take care of everything.
IHO: Thank you counselor, and this is off the record, but I would like to know where you got that particular shade of lipstick. I’ve been looking for that exact color…
PA: It’s available even as we speak at the One Day Sale at Dillard’s.
IHO: Well, that’s all for today.
SDA: But your honor, it’s only 2:00. I thought we were going until 5:00.
IHO: I said that’s all counselor, and I will see you tomorrow at 8:30. Ah, one more thing. Are we still on for our poker game Friday night?
SDA and PA: Yep. It’s at Johnny’s, as usual.
Petitioner’s Exhibit A