A nationwide survey shows income a factor in family pursuit of IDEA litigation and that behavior issues and school placement may have an effect on the odds that a family will seek mediation or due process when in a dispute with their school district over special education services.
The survey of over 500 parents with children on the autism spectrum found that families that earn more than $100,000 are more likely to pursue litigation than those with incomes at half that level.
Researchers indicated that the findings may point to inequality in the special education process. The survey results were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
“That’s a huge problem, to see that parents who come from low-income backgrounds have less access to these safeguards,” said Meghan Burke of the University of Illinois who conducted the research. “Due process and mediation are definitely last resorts for parents and schools to resolve their differences, but you want it to be an equitable resort. The playing field needs to be leveled so that lower-income families have access to pro bono and sliding-scale attorneys who can help them file, if that’s something that they need to do.”