My mission is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues.
I would like to visit and observe different types of schools that have proven records of success, wherever those schools may be. I would like to meet with school directors and administrators, government officials, leaders in the business world, and others who are responsible for implementing education systems or otherwise connected to education to learn more about how education is being addressed in their communities.
If you know of any remarkable schools in other parts of the world (especially special needs schools), please let me know about them. If you know of any education experts who are engaged in remarkable work in this field, please introduce me to them.
Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the above. Read more about my mission here.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Expanding the Record with Additional Evidence
The district court said that it has to determine whether the proposed evidence is relevant and useful in determining whether Congress' goal has been reached for the child involved. This is a case-by-case, fact-based determination. The statute's language says "shall hear additional evidence at the request of the party" -- which suggests that the court is obligated to do it. But the court nimbly worked around this language and reasoned that additional evidence could still be kept out if the proposed witness has no knowledge of the facts and the testimony would not help the court in reaching its decision. In this case, it seemed that the school district wanted to present an attorney as its witness to testify about what the law means, how the law is meant to be implemented, and whether the New Jersey school district was doing it right. You can imagine that a judge might take offense to this since interpreting the law is generally a judge's role. The judge made sure to convey this to the school district's attorney, saying that it is "well-settled that matters of statutory construction are not a proper subject for expert testimony, but rather, questions of law to be resolved by the Court." Read between the lines.
The court left itself a little wiggle room, explaining that experts can sometimes testify on the specific issue of how a government agency applies and enforces its regulations if the statutory structures is complex and requires this type of testimony. BUT, in this case, since the school district never asserted this argument and never described the details of what this testimony would show, the evidence is excluded. The "additional evidence" has to be limited to what is relevant, non-cumulative, and useful in determining whether an appropriate education has been provided to this child. You have to make clear to the judge how the testimony is relevant and useful to this determination, and any vague or overly broad requests are going to be denied.