Special Education Due Process Hearing
The special education hearing process is the legal process to resolve special educational disputes between parents and school districts. It is always recommended parents be represented by an experienced attorney during this process. Without an attorney, the special education hearing process is overwhelming and intimidating. Here is basic process:
Step 1 — Complaint: The complaint will include a written statement of the issues, relevant facts, and proposed resolutions. The complaint is prepared by your attorney based on the information and documents you provide.
Step 2 — Resolution Session: A resolution session is the first step in resolving a case. The idea is to allow the parents and school district to informally resolve their disagreement. Attorneys are typically are not present during this session. A resolution can be waived with the written agreement of both parties. Generally, parties will forgo a resolution session in favor of formal mediation.
Step 3 — Mediation: Mediation is convened by the Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”). An administrative law judge acts as a mediator to help the parents and district resolve the dispute. Attorneys are present for mediation. Medication can be a great opportunity to resolve a dispute with a school district in order to avoid a due process hearing.
Step 4 — Special Education Due Process Hearing: This is a complex trial convened by an administrative law judge in which both parties call and question witnesses and present documentary evidence. The hearing generally involves multiple legal issues, the presentation of both documentary and testimonial evidence, expert opinion, and typically closing briefs. Hearing can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The administrative hearing generally does not take place in a formal court room. Hearing are typically held at the local school district. Hearings can be either public or private depending on the wishes of the family.
Step 5 — Decision: Around 3-4 weeks after a due process hearing, the ALJ will issue a detailed decision. The decision becomes binding on both parties and can be appealed into either state of federal court.