*Please note: the hearing decision database is not yet complete for OAH decisions rendered between 2005-2006.
By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. Google already uses the order and the fact that the words are together as a very strong signal and will stray from it only for a good reason, so quotes are usually unnecessary. By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ "Timothy Adams" ] (with quotes) will miss the pages that refer to Timothy A. Adams.
Attaching a minus sign immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results. The minus sign should appear immediately before the word and should be preceded with a space. For example, in the query [ autistic-like behavior ], the minus sign is used as a hyphen and will not be interpreted as an exclusion symbol; whereas the query [ autistic-like -behavior ] will search for the words 'autistic-like' but exclude references to behavior. You can exclude as many words as you want by using the - sign in front of all of them, for example [ assessment -speech -hearing -sight ].
The *, or wildcard, is a little-known feature that can be very powerful. If you include * within a query, it tells Google to try to treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term(s) and then find the best matches. For example, the search [ Google * ] will give you results about many of Google's products. The query [ assessment * parental consent ] will give you stories about assessment requiring parental consent and assessment without parental consent. Note that the * operator works only on whole words, not parts of words.
Google employs synonyms automatically, so that it finds pages that mention, for example, preschool for the query [ pre school ] (with a space). But sometimes Google helps out a little too much and gives you a synonym when you don't really want it. By attaching a + immediately before a word (remember, don't add a space after the +), you are telling Google to match that word precisely as you typed it, like [ independent+educational+evaluation ]. Putting double quotes around a single word will do the same thing [ "independent educational evaluation" ].
Google's default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type 'OR' in ALL CAPS). For example, [ County Mental Health 2008 OR 2009 ] will give you results about either one of these years, whereas [ County Mental Health 2008 2009 ] (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page. The symbol | can be substituted for OR. (The AND operator, by the way, is the default, so it is not needed.)