For fiscal year 2015 (covering the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015), the number of students in Massachusetts on IEP's reached an all-time high of 165,060. Although this represents only a 10% increase since 2002, the number of rejected IEP's since 2002 has doubled, from 5,140 to 10,280. Despite the steadily increasing number of rejected IEP's, the number of BSEA hearing requests reached a 13 year low of 492. This is down significantly from the 590 hearing requests in 2014. The number of actual hearing decisions in 2015 also reached a 13 year low, with just 18 decisions being issued. To see more about the statistics, you can download the spreadsheet maintained by the BSEA.
Out of 10,280 rejected IEP's, there were only 18 due process hearings with decisions. Why? Most cases reach resolution prior to a hearing. In other words, based on the statistics, there is only a 0.2% likelihood that any rejected IEP will actually go all the way through to a complete Hearing.
Of the 18 decisions that were rendered, parents fully prevailed in just 3 cases. That represents just 17% of the BSEA decisions. School districts, on the other hand, fully prevailed in 11 cases, representing 61% of the BSEA decisions. There was mixed relief in 3 cases, representing 17% of the BSEA decisions. Mixed relief means that neither side fully prevailed, but each side partially prevailed. Click on the following link to see an example of a case decision with mixed relief which I litigated. In this case, involving the Oxford Public Schools, the parent succeeded in proving that the student did not receive FAPE, and that the Oxford school district was required to provide compensatory services, but failed to prove a claim of retaliation.
What is the lesson here for parents? Proceed with caution when it comes to litigation. As an attorney, I judge my success not by the number of cases litigated, but by the number of positive outcomes achieved (preferably without litigation).