One of the most important things to a parent is making sure their child receives the education that they need. When parents disagree with the school about the programming that is necessary for their child, it is important to know that they are not required to accept the district’s offer as final. Instead, they can file for a due process hearing. In doing so, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Pennsylvania education law attorney for assistance.
What is a Due Process Hearing?
A due process hearing exists as a formal way to resolve disputes with a school district regarding a child’s education. During this time, each party has the chance to present their views on the situation in a legal setting. This can include the use of witnesses, testimony, documents, and legal arguments. Once each side is presented, the hearing officer can consider the issues at hand before coming to a decision. It is important to know that parents can only file a due process complaint for special education disputes, not general education matters.
Once a parent files for a due process hearing, a hearing officer can be appointed by the Commonwealth to hold a hearing at the school district. Some of the matters that are usually resolved at a due process hearing can include:
- The child’s eligibility for an outside educational evaluation paid for by the school district
- The child’s eligibility for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan
- Accommodations or specially designed instruction that a plan should have
- The services the child is owed if the district was not previously providing special education programming
- The child’s need to be educated in a private school focusing on special education needs
The Process of Filing a Dispute
In order to have a dispute with a school district resolved through due process, the parent is required to file a written request with the Office for Dispute Resolution. The request must include information regarding the child, school, description of the problem, and a proposal for how to solve the problem. After this, the process is as follows:
- The parent should hear back from the Office within five days of them receiving the complaint. A hearing officer will then be assigned and a hearing date is given.
- The school district must meet with the parents for what is known as a “resolution session.” This must take place within 15 days of receiving the Notice. It is important to know this does not have to occur if both parties agree to use mediation or waive the meeting.
- If the dispute is not resolved then, a hearing will occur. Each party can use witnesses or provide written material to be considered. These documents must be exchanged at least five days before the hearing.
- The hearing officer will make a written decision after reviewing the evidence within 45 days after the receipt of the request for the hearing was received.
Contact our Firm
Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm in York County, Pennsylvania focusing on Education Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation matters. If you need a knowledgeable attorney that will effectively represent your interests, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.