You should keep in mind three major factors when deciding whether to appeal an IHO’s decision:
- Appeals are typically more successful when they’re based on a violation of the law, rather than an error of fact about your child’s case. Courts usually agree with the hearing officer’s finding of facts unless there’s an egregious error.
- Appeals take time and money. The court will likely review the record of the hearing. Usually, both sides submit lengthy, ironically named “legal briefs,” which can take significant attorney time and expense. Courts also can review new evidence, if you have a good reason for submitting it, like it wasn’t available at the time of the hearing. Sometimes we can find ways to ease the cost burden on you. When your child’s future is at stake, cost shouldn’t be a factor.
- Never lose sight of the impact on your child’s education. If your child’s situation has changed since the hearing, and portions of the hearing officer’s decision no longer apply, you might want to forego the effort of an appeal. One example would be if your child needed an evaluation but has since received the evaluation.
The hearing officer’s decision could be upsetting. Make sure you’re thoughtful and strategic in deciding whether to appeal.