Student v. Medford Public Schools – BSEA #04-0898



<br /> Student v. Medford Public Schools – BSEA #04-0898<br />

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS

In Re: Student v. Medford Public Schools BSEA # 04-0898

RULING ON PARENTS MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO DISCOVERY AND MEDFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS MOTION IN OPPOSITION TO THE PARENTS’ MOTION

On September 9, 2003 the BSEA received the Parents’ Motion to Compel Responses to Discovery Requests in the above referenced matter. A response from Medford Public Schools (hereinafter, “Medford”) was received on September 9, 2003, when it filed a Motion in Opposition to the Parents’ Motion to Compel Responses to Discovery. The Parents filed a Response to Medford’s Motion in Opposition to the Parents’ Motion, on July 10, 2003.

The Parents assert that discovery requests were served by them on Medford on August 12, 2003. Thereafter, Medford did not file any objection to the Parents’ requests. Both Parties then requested a postponement of the September 3, 2003 IDEA Hearing date, and requested that a Pre-hearing Conference be scheduled. At Medford’s request, the Pre-hearing Conference was postponed beyond September 3 rd , over the Parents’ Objection, and a Pre-hearing Conference was scheduled for September 25, 2003.

Medford objects to having to comply with the Discovery request and asserts that it is not responsible to comply with discovery until after the Pre-Hearing Conference. In asserting this position, Medford relies on a BSEA Ruling, on an unrelated matter, regarding a request for imposition of sanctions for failure to comply with a discovery request, by a different Hearing Officer. See In Re: Dedham Public Schools , 9 MSER 44 (2002). This reliance by Medford disregards other BSEA Rulings inconsistent with the Dedham case such as In Re: Peabody Public Schools , BSEA # 03-0128, January 17, 2003, which reached the opposite result.
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Rule #5 of the Hearing Rules for Special Education Appeals requires that responses to requests for information be provided within 30 days unless a shorter or longer period of time is established by a Hearing Officer. Hearing Rules for Special Education Appeals , Rule 5. D. et seq. This rule is based on the Massachusetts Standard Rules of Adjudicatory Practice and Procedure, 801 CMR 1.01. While it is true that parties may agree to hold off discovery until after the Pre-Hearing Conference (something that does not apply to the instant case), I find Medford’s reliance on the Dedham case as its justification not to comply with discovery to be erroneous and wholly unsupported by the procedural rules guiding Special Education Appeals stated infra . Also, delaying discovery until after the Pre-hearing conference is in conflict with the IDEA mandate to resolve cases expeditiously.1

Upon consideration of the Parties respective positions I hereby ALLOW the Parents’ Motion to Compel Responses to Discovery. Medford shall respond to the Parents’ Discovery requests by the close of business on September 19, 2003 . Failure to do so may result in imposition of sanctions against Medford.

So Ordered by the Hearing Officer,

__________________________________

Rosa I. Figueroa

Hearing Officer

Dated: September 10, 2003


1

IDEA contemplates completion of a BSEA hearing within 45 days of the day in which the request for hearing is received. 20 U.S.C. 1415; 34 CFR § 300.511 (a).


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