School & District Management

District Sues Parent for ‘Frivolous’ Special Education Dispute

By Christina A. Samuels — August 05, 2009 1 min read

The Bethlehem, Pa. school district says that a parent is trying to harass them by filing 22 due process hearing requests in eight years, and now they want her to pay the district’s legal fees.

In an article in the The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., the district says that the parent, Diana Zhou, has a history of refusing to agree to special education plans for her two children. The district also claims that the parent had a specific purpose in mind, according to the article:

...the suit states Zhou intensified her ''vexatious'' behavior when she told state mediator William Haussman on Nov. 24, 2008, she was ''engaging in due process procedures to drive up costs for the district so that the district would agree to pay'' for her children to attend private Moravian Academy in downtown Bethlehem. Reached at her home Tuesday, Zhou, who does not have an attorney, said she did not receive a copy of the suit. She declined to comment, except to say she worried about a backlash against her two children, who still attend school in the district.

You can read a copy of the lawsuit here.

Perry Zirkel, a special education law expert at Lehigh University, says that proving a case is frivolous is difficult, but it’s a sign that districts “are willing to fight back.” Judging by the amount of money that can be expended by some school districts to defend themselves in due process hearings, I think it’s clear that some districts are already fighting back. But it’ll be interesting to see if suits of this nature will be a new weapon in the arsenal.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.