In reaching its decision to reverse the SRO and rule in favor of the parents, the SDNY considered the amount of deference, if any, that a federal court should grant to administrative decisions. This has been and likely will continue to be a hotly-litigated issue in IDEA cases. The Court asserted that "the deference owed to an SRO's decision depends on the quality of that opinion" (citing to R.E., 694 F.3d at 189) or its “persuasiveness” (citing to M.H. II, 685 F.3d at 244).
The SRO's Decision on this issue cannot be described as “well-reasoned” or “based on substantially greater familiarity with the evidence and the witnesses than the reviewing court,” M.H. II, 685 F.3d at 244, and therefore merits no deference. The Court thus turns to the IHO's decision. See R.E., 694 F.3d at 189.And later added:
The SRO's Decision on this issue merely states the issue, states the conclusion, summarizes the CSE meetings and the IEP, states the conclusion again, summarizes the evidence presented at the hearing, and then states the conclusion a third and final time. Id. at 12–15. At no point does the SRO actually analyze the evidence or explain the reasons for its determination.
For a related decision with a similar outcome see B.R. ex rel. K.O. v. New York City Dept. of Educ., 2012 WL 6691046 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 26, 2012).