Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


MaryBeth Walpole, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

James Coaxum, III, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Susan Meklune, Ed.D.


Children with disabilities--Services for--Law and legislation; Parents of children with disabilities


Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Administration and Supervision


With every reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) since its inception in 1975, parents and school districts have been encouraged to mediate differences through non-legal means, whenever possible. This study assessed Special Education due process in the State of New Jersey between July 2005 and June 2012. The goal was to identify common patterns that led to due process and assess how former litigants described their experience and feelings about due process. I used a qualitative case study approach to collect and analyze data. First, I conducted a document analysis of 187 due process case results. I also analyzed survey results from litigants who were involved in special education due process. My research revealed four common patterns: parents initiated due process at a disproportionately higher rate than school districts; due process complaints were primarily associated with disputes over placement and program; school districts prevailed in most due process cases; and parents fared better when an attorney or advocate represented them in due process proceedings. Results from this study could help New Jersey school districts and parents improve on special education practice, support social justice reform and help guide the next reauthorization of IDEA.