What is Due Process?

A due process hearing is usually a formal, contested, adversarial trial. If you have already gone to mediation and were not satisfied with the outcome, you may request a due process hearing, but you do not need to have gone to mediation first. Prior to requesting a due process hearing you should become familiar with the federal statute and your state special education laws and regulations.

Understand that getting to this point will probably create a hostile situation between the family and the school. Unlike mediation, you will need to hire a professional, most likely an attorney. This can be costly and time consuming, but depending on the situation can be very necessary.

It is crucial that you have maintained an organized system. A paper trail of sorts that outlines everything since the very first time your child was evaluated. This will be very important in proving your case. Every conversation should be documented with a time, date, length and what was discussed. Every e-mail should be printed and placed in a binder. All face-to-face conversations should be documented. All IEP’s, amendments, reports etc. should be collected and organized into a binder. Basically every interaction you have with the school or district should be documented in a well organized fashion so that it is easily accessible. “If you write letters and create a paper trail and you have competent, qualified private experts who can testify about what your child needs, you will be in a good position if a due process hearing is necessary” (wrightslaw.com).

Make sure you are clear about the issue or issues at hand and are able to verbalize it clearly to the attorneys you call. They will need to understand exactly what is going on and will want to see all the documentation you have collected. Take time interviewing different attorney’s to find the one you are most comfortable with. After all, this is your child’s education you are fighting for.

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