The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (the "IDEA") is a broad federal mandate intended to make a "free appropriate public education" available to all disabled students. More importantly, however, the IDEA encourages schools to enable parents to collaborate with their child's educators. In the event that parents and educators disagree about a child's educational plan, the IDEA channels this conflict through an administrative appeals process. But despite the fact that the IDEA's due process hearing is one of its most prominent procedural safeguards, the IDEA fails to specify which party bears the burden of proof during the proceedings. The existing conflict of authority regarding the allocation of the burden of proof at due process hearings must be resolved in order achieve the IDEA's mandate. A modified burden-shifting scheme would best mirror the IDEA's delicate balancing of the rights of disabled children and the need to impose a realistic mandate on school districts.
Anne E. Johnson, Evening the Playing Field: Tailoring the Allocation of the Burden of Proof at IDEA Due Process Hearings to Balance Chldren's Rights and Schools' Needs, 46 B.C.L. Rev. 591 (2005), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol46/iss3/2