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Monday, May 27, 2024


Feb. 14, 2002 – Training will be held March 9 for lawyers to become certified as impartial hearing officers to handle cases between the Education Department and parents or guardians of children who need special education.
Belinda West-O'Neal, state director of the Education Department's special education program, said that sometimes parents initiate a case when they feel their children aren't getting necessary services, and sometimes the department begins proceedings because the parents don't want services for their children.
Impartial hearing officers must have a minimum of two years' law practice or experience in education, special education, disability rights or civil rights. "We prefer to have people with this background and a knowledge of the Virgin Islands," West-O'Neal said.
She said the department currently has a pool of five attorneys who hear cases on a rotating basis, but those attorneys must be recertified. The hearing officers handle about four cases a year, she said.
There are 1,400 special education students in the territory, with the number about evenly divided between the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix districts, West-O'Neal said. She said federal law requires that the Education Department have impartial hearing officers.
The training location and time have not been announced. For more information, call Rosette Pascal, special education resource specialist, at 776-5802.

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