Colorado enacts RTC for parents in due process appeals where the parent prevailed below

Key_development Question_mark

05/25/2023, Legislation, Education - Special Education

Parents of disabled students who may be eligible for special education services are entitled to appointed counsel where "an administrative unit" or "state-operated program" appeals a decision made in favor of the parent, guardian or custodian as to their child's disability status and rights to a special education. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-1-141(3).  The law defines "Parent" as "a parent, guardian, or legal custodian of, or entity with educational decision-making authority for, a student with a disability or a student who may be eligible for special education services." Id. at (1)(d).


The new law, enacted by the Colorado legislature in 2023, requires


[t]he Department [of Education to] enter into a service agreement with a nonprofit organization to create and maintain a list of attorneys qualified to represent a parent in a due process complaint filed by an administrative unit or state-operated program pursuant to section 22-20-18 (3) concerning issues disputed in a state complaint in which the parent prevailed.


H.B. 1168, 74th Gen. Assemb., 1st Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2023) (codified at Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-1-141).  Under the statute, "[a] parent ... may contact the nonprofit organization for an attorney appointment. The nonprofit organization shall appoint an attorney from the list of attorneys ... to represent the parent in a due process complaint [appeal] ..."  Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-1-141(3).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes