Experiences and Perceptions of Directors of Special Education with Due Process Hearings and the Impact on Special Education Programs in California

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Summer 2022


Due process hearings are an established parental right and procedural safeguard as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) in resolving conflict. This process was created to ensure conflict resolution efforts have inherent challenges for school districts in how they respond to individual complaints while they continue to maintain relationships with parents, maintain defensible educational programs for students, and remain fiscally responsible. This researcher sought to understand the experiences of five directors of special education in northern California, whose frequency of experience with the system is less than that of directors in southern California. The directors are employed by districts north of San Francisco, and the researcher interviewed them to determine (a) their perceptions of the benefits and limitations of the due process hearing system, (b) what they felt could be attempted or changed to avoid potential filings, and (c) how they changed educational practices or programs as a response. The study findings revealed themes of attorney fees, stress on personnel, and settlements as limitations of the due process system. Relationships with parents were both a protective factor as well as a limitation, depending on the experience of the director. Following filings, however, directors used filings as a chance to reset their teams and programs and look proactively toward the future for their school district.


Ray Thompson

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Special Education and Teaching