We are entrenched in preparation for a due process hearing this week, so I thought a quick overview of one of the "rules" for a hearing would be appropriate as a Fast Fact Friday.
The IDEA's "5 day rule" for disclosure of evaluations states that:
"(A) Not less than 5 business days prior to a hearing conducted pursuant to paragraph (1), each party shall disclose to all other parties all evaluations completed by that date, and recommendations based on the offering party's evaluations, that the party intends to use at the hearing.
(B) A hearing officer may bar any party that fails to comply with subparagraph (A) from introducing the relevant evaluation or recommendation at the hearing without the consent of the other party."
The requirement to disclose evaluations and recommendations is mandatory for both parties. For parents and their representatives, this means that any independent educational evaluations, private assessments, expert observations / reports, etc that you have obtained and will be relying upon in the hearing must be provided to the school district and/or their legal representatives 5 business days prior to the start of the hearing. This will most likely require advanced planning and communication with any experts / evaluators to make sure that any pending evaluation reports will be available to you in enough time to meet this requirement.
The remedy / punishment for failing to meet this requirement is discretionary for the hearing officer. The hearing officer is permitted by statute to bar introduction of the "relevant evaluation or recommendation." This does not mean that the hearing officer must bar the evidence. Note that the statute allows for barring not only the evaluation (i.e. the report) but also the recommendation, which could be interpreted to mean that the hearing officer can bar testimony from that expert about their recommendations for the student's program (i.e. their expert opinion).