A resolution meeting is a meeting that the school district is required to convene within 15 days of a parent filing a due process complaint. The purpose of the resolution meeting is to allow parents to discuss their due process complaint and the facts from the complaint with the school district. This allows the district and the parents the opportunity resolve the dispute without holding a due process hearing. If both the parent and the school district agree, the resolution meeting can be waived. The district and parent also have the option of using mediation instead of the resolution meeting.
Confidentiality is not required, and state cannot require participants to keep discussions in a resolution meeting confidential. However, parties could agree to sign a confidentiality agreement if they choose.
Parents and relevant members of the IEP team who have specific knowledge of the facts in the due process complaint, or other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child should attend the resolution session. This group must also include a representative of the school district who has decision-making authority for the school district.
An IEP member’s “relevance” to the meeting should be determined by the parent and the district. The US Department of Education provides more specific guidance regarding who should attend the resolution meeting, stating:
“We urge LEAs [school district] and parents to act cooperatively in determining who will attend the resolution meeting, as a resolution meeting is unlikely to result in any resolution of the dispute if the parties cannot even agree on who should attend. The parties should keep in mind that the resolution process offers a valuable chance to resolve disputes before expending what can be considerable time and money in due process hearings (71 Fed. Reg. 46701).”
Your attorney may also accompany you at the Resolution Meeting. Keep in mind while it is not required for a parent to disclose that their attorney will be attending the meeting with them it would certainly not be in their best interest to withhold that information. If a parent chooses to bring their attorney and has not disclosed this to the district, the district has the right to refuse to hold the meeting until they can arrange for their attorney to attend (still within the 15-day period).
Before holding the meeting, the district must make reasonable efforts to obtain the parent’s participation and must document those efforts. (This would include keeping record of phone calls attempted, correspondence sent and attempted visits to the parents’ home or workplace.)
A parent’s failure to participate in the meeting will delay the timeline for the resolution process and the due process hearing. A due process hearing cannot be convened until the resolution meeting is held (or has been waived).
If the parent does not attend the meeting, the district would continue to make efforts through the remainder of the 30 day resolution period to convince the parent to participate in the resolution meeting. If at the end of the period, the district is still unable to convince the parent to participate, the district would have the ability to seek intervention with the hearing officer to dismiss the complaint.
The U.S. Department of Education understands that there may be circumstances beyond the parent’s control (e.g., military services or hospitalization) and indicates that it would be appropriate for the district to offer alternative means of to ensure parent participation in the resolution meeting. This may include video conference or telephone conference.
If the district does not follow through on its responsibility for the resolution meeting, either by not holding the meeting within 15 days of being notified that a parent has filed a due process complaint or by failing to participate, the parent may seek the intervention of the hearing officer to begin the due process timeline.
If an agreement is reached at the resolution meeting, the parent and district must enter into a legally binding agreement. The agreement must be signed by the parent and the district representative with the authority to bind the district. The agreement is enforceable in any State or district court (with the authority to hear this type of case).
Keep in mind, either party can void the agreement within three business days from the date the agreement was signed.
The resolution period begins when a due process complaint is filed and lasts for 30 days. If the parent and the district choose to use mediation they can agree to extend the resolution period beyond the 30 day resolution period. If, once they agree to extend the resolution period, one of the parties withdraws from mediation, the 45-day timeline for the due process hearing begins.
If the parents and district engage in the resolution meeting, and they have not reached an agreement to the parent’s satisfaction, the 45-day timeline for the due process hearing begins.