Lanza's Burden Of Proof Bill Signed Into Law

Andrew J Lanza

August 22, 2007

Senate bill S.5972-A, sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R - Staten Island) has been signed into law by Governor Elliot Spitzer as chapter number 583 of the laws of 2007. The bill places the burden of proof in an impartial hearing about services to children with disabilities on the school district or state agency responsible for providing education.

A 2005 Supreme Court decision, Schaffer v. Weast, declared that in the absence of state law, the burden of proof in an impartial hearing about education for students with disabilities is on the party that files the complaint. In practice, the person who files the complaint is typically the parents and their child. This court decision reversed a long-standing policy in New York State, based on case law, that the burden of proof should be placed on the school district as it would be an undue burden on parents to match the expertise, information, legal and educational resources that school districts possess.

"For parents of children with disabilities, getting an appropriate education program is difficult enough, without imposing additional hurdles upon them," said Senator Lanza. "This measure will help ensure that all students in New York State are afforded the quality education that they need and deserve."