Q Does a non-attorney acting as a judge in a due process hearing regarding a SPED child in need of an individualized education plan constitute practicing law without a license?

A These hearings are conducted pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 USC §§ 1400 et seq., and federal regulations promulgated thereunder, 34 CFR §§ 300.1 et seq.. While the Attorney General cannot opine on matters of federal law, the pertinent federal law is silent regarding any requirement for a hearing officer to be an attorney. Additionally, Mississippi law (Section 37-23-143) regarding such hearings is silent about whether IDEA due process hearing officers in Mississippi are required to be attorneys. As being an attorney is not a requirement to be the hearing officer, it is not the practice of law. (Attorney General’s Opinion to Baria, September 26, 2014)