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In Schaffer ex rel. Schaffer v. Weast (2005), the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the party challenging an individualized education program (IEP) bears the burden of proof at an administrative due process hearing under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Because it is generally the parents of students with disabilities who bring IEP challenges, Schaffer effectively placed the burden of proof on parents in most situations. This entry summarizes the case and the court ruling.

Facts of the Case

The original dispute in Schaffer concerned the appropriate program for a student with learning disabilities, language disabilities, and other health impairments who attended a private school. In spite of small classes, the student was not successful, and his parents contacted the public school district seeking special education ...

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