Due Process Hearing

A Due Process Hearing is a formal hearing where an impartial, trained hearing officer hears the evidence and issues a hearing decision. The hearing offers the district and the parent an opportunity to present their case in a formal legal setting using witnesses, testimony, documents and legal arguments. The district and the parent share information that they believe is important for the hearing panel to consider in order to decide the issues in the hearing. Because this is a legal proceeding school districts and parents often choose to be represented by an attorney.

A Due Process Hearing is the most formal option when looking at dispute resolution. Whether or not you’ve tried other resolution options and were unsuccessful, or you chose to waive those options and went straight to the due process hearing, timelines for holding a due process hearing and resolving the dispute have begun.

The following are the sections in IDEA that address the provisions of Due Process:

  • §300.511 Impartial Due Process Hearing
  • §300.512 Hearing Rights
  • §300.513 Hearing Decisions
  • §300.514 Finality of Decision, Appeal, Impartial Review
  • §300.515 Timelines and Convenience of Hearings and Review
  • §300.516 Civil Action
  • §300.517 Attorneys’ Fees
  • §300.518 Child’s Status During Proceedings



Click on any question below to view answers to questions that parents most frequently ask us.

What qualifications must a hearing officer have?

At a minimum a hearing officer:

  • Must not be an employee of the State Education Agency (SEA) or the Local Education Agency (LEA) involved in the education or care of the child; or
  • Must not have a personal or professional interest that conflicts with their objectivity in the hearing;
  • Must possess knowledge of, and the ability to understand, the provisions of IDEA, Federal and State regulations, and legal interpretations of IDEA by State and Federal courts;
  • Must possess the knowledge and ability to conduct hearings in accordance with appropriate, standard legal practice.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Division of Special Education Compliance department keeps a list of qualified hearing officers as well as information regarding their qualifications. If you are considering filing a due process complaint, it would be a good idea to request this list (and/or a list of qualified mediators) prior to filing. This would give you time to review the list prior to filing your complaint.

I have the list of Hearing Officers, now what?

You have 10 calendar days to chose and hearing officer, contact them, and determine whether or not they are available to participate in your due process hearing. If you are not able to find a hearing officer within the 10 days, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will appoint one for you.

Is there a timeline for requesting a Due Process Hearing?
What rights do the school district and I have in a Due Process Hearing?
Who has the burden of proof in Due Process Hearings?
What does the Hearing Officer base their decision on?
What is the timeline for issuing the hearing decision?
Can the Hearing Officer's decision be appealed?
What timeline is involved in filing an appeal?

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Do you have questions about a disability and how it may impact your child's education? Let our team help. Contact Us.


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