About Karen Dalglish Seal

DisAbility Advocates:

Dedicated to providing information to individuals with disabilities, their families, their friends and their service providers.


Expert Witnesses

Students with disabilities are governed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (I.D.E.A.).   I.D.E.A. is federal law which demands that each student with a disability be provided with an education that meets their unique educational needs.  The I.D.E.A. provides for individual education plans with appropriate modifications and accommodations in the curriculum that permit each student to function successfully in the least restrictive environment. Another part of the puzzle of the special education system is child find.  Schools have a mandate to locate children with disabilities and to provide services.

  Once the child is identified as potentially having special needs, an expert or experts (Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, Diagnostician, Speech Therapists, Physician, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, etc.) may assess the student to determine the extent and type of disability(ies).  An assessment team then signs the assessment, the Full Individual Evaluation (FIE).  The FIE is then presented to a committee that consists of, at the minimum, an administrator, a special education teacher, a general education teacher, assessment personnel and the parent.  The committee called an Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee (A.R.D.C.) then meets to determine if the student qualifies for special education services and, if so, what those services will be.  If the student qualifies for services, then the A.R.D.C. develops an individual education plan (I.E.P.) for the child.

Because of an 8.5% cap on special education services imposed by the Texas Education Agency as well as internal and external pressures placed on the experts by the schools, parents have lost faith in this system.  The child is often denied services or given less than appropriate services.  The experts who do the assessment work at the whim of the District and must conform to District instructions when it comes to assessment.  As a result, many children are not identified or are underidentified.  Parents can request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) but the Districts often dismiss the assessments that are not performed by their staff members over whom the Districts have control. As a result, the parents must file a complaint with the Texas Education Agency or file a request for a due process hearing. 

A complaint takes time and may or may not obtain results for the intended child.  In the alternative, a parent can file for a due process hearing.  An independent hearing officer is appointed for the hearing and the school has all of its experts on hand.  These “experts” are not free from the influence of the Districts.  The parents will have to obtain their own experts.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevail at a due process hearing without experts.  And, experts are expensive.

Therefore, to make the process somewhat fair to the parents who bear the burden of proof in due process hearing but who are not privy to the daily activities within the classroom and school and who do not have easy access to experts, the following change in the law should be provided:

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}A parent must be free to choose an independent expert or experts to testify on behalf of the student paid for by the District the child attends.

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}If more than one expert is required, then the hearing officer should make a decision about the necessity of the additional expert(s) for the hearing.

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}Telephonic testimony by the student’s doctors should be permitted without the permission of the hearing officer. 

The need for fair and responsible due process hearings that are not frivolous, not misusing the resources of the District, supports the requirement that only an attorney should file and prosecute a due process hearing.  This requirement ensures that precious state funds are spent judiciously and attorneys can be held accountable by the State Bar of Texas for any frivolous hearing requests.


Karen Dalglish Seal, Attorney

202 East Park Avenue

San Antonio, TX 78212

Office: 210-226-8101

Facsimile:  210-226-8175

E-mail:  Karen@kseallaw.com


All information contained within this web site is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists from the use of this web site, and an attorney-client relationship may only be established by contracting directly with Karen Dalglish Seal, Attorney at Law. Intellectual property within this Website are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Karen Dalglish Seal.  Licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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