Commonwealth Court finds Office of Dispute Resolution Manual is Not Binding

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has held that the Office of Dispute Resolution Manual does not have the force of law.  In the case of Bethlehem Area School District v. Diane Zhou  the Commonwealth Court denied the request of a parent of a gifted student to have the transcript of a Gifted Due Process Hearing translated into Mandarin Chinese.  In reaching this conclusion, the Commonwealth Court found that the reliance upon ODR's Manual to support a right to the requested translation was insufficient, as the same does not have the force of law.  The Court found that only the properly adopted regulations had the force of law.  While the regulations at issue have since changed, and now require the provision of a transcript to the parents in gifted due process hearings, as has long been the case in special education matter, it is not clear what effect the ruling could have on other parts of the ODR Manual which are not contained in the more formal regulations regarding these cases. 

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