A due process hearing is one approach that parents and schools can use to resolve disagreements. In a due process hearing, you and the school present evidence before an impartial hearing officer. The hearing officer then decides how to resolve the problem.
You have the right to request a due process hearing on any matter related to
- your child's identification as a "child with a disability,"
- his or her evaluation,
- his or her educational placement, and
- the special education and related services that the school provides to your child.
When should I request a due process hearing?
In most cases, your request for a hearing must be made no later than two years of the date you knew or should have known of the problem that is the subject of your complaint. Some reasons why a parent might file for due process include:
- The school refuses to evaluate your child in order to establish eligibility for special education.
- You disagree with the school's eligibility decision.
- The services, goals, or objectives in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) are not appropriate for your child.
- The school refuses to provide a related service, modification, or supplementary aid that you can show your child needs.
- You disagree with the placement decision.
- You disagree with disciplinary action imposed by the school.
Typically when the parent and school disagree, it is important for both sides to first discuss their concerns and try to reach a compromise. Remember, the goal is to provide an appropriate education for your child. There are often several ways to provide an appropriate education program.
However, if you and the school have fully communicated, understand each other's positions, tried such strategies as IEP meetings and/or mediation, and you still disagree, you may want to request a due process hearing. A due process hearing is a formal proceeding in front of a qualified, impartial hearing officer. The hearing officer makes a decision about how to resolve the conflict, based upon the evidence and the requirements of law.
The school system will probably be represented by an attorney. While parents are not required to have an attorney, you are strongly encouraged to have one. The school system must tell you about any free or low-cost legal (and other related) resources available in the area if you request a due process hearing or if you simply request this information.
How do I request a due process hearing?
Send your letter requesting a due process hearing to the superintendent of your child's school district and a copy to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) which appoints the hearing officer.
The hearing officer is responsible for setting the date, time, and place of the hearing. The hearing must be held and the decision must be made by the hearing officer no later than 45 days after the school system receives your request for the hearing, unless the hearing officer has ordered more time.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), when you ask for a due process hearing, your request must include:
- the name of your child;
- the address of your child's residence;
- the name of your child's school;
- a description of the problem, including facts relating to the problem; and
- how you would resolve the problem, to the extent that a solution is known and available to you.
Also, Ohio has a model form that you may use to request a due process hearing. You are not required to use the model form. However, you may want to use the form to help ensure that your complaint is not dismissed because it fails to meet the requirements of the law (the hearing officer concludes that the complaint is 'insufficient' and the case can not go forward). You can get a copy of this form from your child's school or from the Ohio Department of Education website.
Date (include month, day, and year)
Superintendent (Name of Superintendent for Your Child's School District)
(Name of School District)
City, State, Zip Code
Dear (Name of Superintendent),
I am writing to request a due process hearing pursuant to Chapter 3323 of the Ohio Revised Code and implementing regulations. I am the parent of (child's name), a (child's age) year old student at (child's school), in the (child's school district). (Child's name) birth date is (child's date of birth). (He/she) is in the (number of grade) grade.
I have met with school personnel in an effort to resolve our differences concerning my (son's/daughter's) (explain problem) and have been unable to do so. The nature of our disagreement is as follows:
- Explain the problem with brief statements of fact.
- Consider listing the facts separately with numbers.
An acceptable resolution of the problem would include (Provide an explanation to the extent that you know how you want the disagreement to be resolved. State the facts and number the items.)
I also request that this hearing be (open/closed) to persons other than those directly involved. (Child's name) (will/will not) attend the hearing.
My daytime telephone number is (your phone number). Thank you for your assistance.
City, State, Zip Code
Daytime telephone number
cc: your child's principal; Ohio Department of Education, Office of Procedural Safeguards; your advocate/attorney