Required Use of Electronic Filing for IDEA Cases at SOAH
Beginning September 1, 2021, electronic filing in proceedings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) at SOAH is required for TEA, attorneys, authorized representatives, and school districts. Self-represented parties are strongly encouraged, but not required, to file electronically and may instead use approved alternative methods of mail, fax, or hand-delivery. Parties will be required to file and serve documents using eFileTexas, or another electronic filing service provider approved by the Office of Court Administration, in accordance with SOAH’s Rules of Procedure. The following provides a summary of how recent amendments to SOAH’s Rules of Procedure will apply SOAH’s electronic filing rules to IDEA cases:
- § 155.1(i) – IDEA proceedings are now also subject to the procedures set forth in Sections 155.51, 155.53, 155.101(a)-(b), 155.103, 155.105, 155.301, 155.305, and 155.429(b) of SOAH’s Rules of Procedure.
- § 155.51-.53 — SOAH acquires jurisdiction of an IDEA case only upon TEA’s referral to SOAH accompanied by the filing of a properly completed Request to Docket form.
- § 155.101(a)-(b) – Electronic filing in IDEA cases is required for TEA, attorneys, authorized representatives, and school districts. Self-represented parties are strongly encouraged, but not required, to file electronically and may instead use approved alternative methods of mail, fax, or hand-delivery. Email is no longer an accepted filing method, unless otherwise approved by the judge based on a showing of good cause. Document formatting requirements are described, including requirements for pleadings, motions, and exhibits. Filing parties are responsible for entering complete and accurate service contact information for the parties into the eFileTexas system, including the designation of lead counsel if applicable.
- § 155.103 – IDEA case records are confidential, and any documents filed must be labeled as confidential and be designated as confidential within eFileTexas at the time of filing. It is important for filers to make sure they select the “confidential” designation for document security when electronically filing all IDEA case records.
- § 155.105 – Documents filed electronically must also be served electronically to the email address of record on file in eFile Texas. Again, parties are responsible for entering complete and accurate service contact information into the eFileTexas system.
- § 155.301 – Required format of pleadings.
- § 155.305 – Requirements for motions, generally.
- § 155.429(b) – Requirements for evidence. Exhibits should be properly formatted, labeled, and numbered. Photos instead of physical evidence should be used where possible. Filed exhibits should not overburden SOAH with unnecessary voluminous records.
More information about filing documents for IDEA cases, including links to FAQs about eFileTexas, is available on our IDEA Hearings page.
You may view SOAH's Rule Adoption Notice related to e-filing for IDEA cases, on the Texas Secretary of State website.