The Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, more affectionately referred to as CADRE , does a number of great things. One of which is to keep track of all of the mediations, due process hearings and state complaints around the country. They have recently released a compilation of data for the five year period ending with the 2007-2008 school year. You can read all of the 34 pages of data for Part B (ages 5 and up) here . The Part C (ages 3 - 5) data may be read here .
The following quote is from the five year summary of the data by CADRE: "Nationally, the number of complaints filed peaked in 2004-05 and has declined by about 10% since then. The number of mediations peaked in 2004-05, then declined sharply in 2005-06 as the resolution process was implemented; in the last two years, the number of mediations held and agreements reached have increased again. Due process complaint filings have shown a very slight decline on average but with variability from year to year. The reported number of due process hearings fully adjudicated peaked in 2004-05 but has declined sharply over the last four years."
Some interesting numbers jump off the pages. One involves the decrease in hearings. From 03-04 to 07-08 the number of due process hearing complaints filed decreased from 17,688 to 15,534. The number of fully adjudicated complaints (ie, a decision issued) for the same period was cut by more than a quarter from 4,178 to 2950. (Isn't it amazing that with nearly seven million kids in special education that we have only this number of complaints!)
Also interesting is the concentration of the complaints in certain areas of the country. 80% of the due process complaints in 2007-2008 came from six states. The concentration is even more interesting if you look at the charts considering the number of complaints per 100,000 special education students. This should eliminate the effect of total populations of states. For every 10, 000 special ed kids the following states had these numbers of due process complaints Washington, DC 3,002 Puerto Rico 171 New York 134 Hawaii 43 Virgin Islands 45 Massachusetts 37 New Jersey 36 California 36 Maryland 31 Connecticut 30 Pennsylvania 27 New Hampshire 26
(No other state had more than 12)
Although most of the states on the list are generally considered to be among the league leaders in due process complaints, I am surprised by the huge average number of complaints per 10K from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and New Hampshire. Maybe it is the warm weather?