Resolution Meeting For Due Process; Can It Help Me Resolve My Special Education Dispute?

Have you tried to resolve your disagreements with special education personnel to no avail? Have you filed for a special education due process for your child with autism or a learning disability? Would you like to try and come to an agreement before the due process hearing? This article will discuss a new resolution process that was added, when IDEA was reauthorized in 2004. You can use this process to try and resolve your special education disputes before the due process hearing.A resolution meeting must be held within 15 calendar days, of the school district receiving notice, of a due process complaint. The resolution meeting is mandatory for you. Both parties, the school district and the parent can agree in writing to waive the resolution session, or to agree to go to mediation.There are pros and cons to the resolution meeting. Pro’s are: A. It is an additional opportunity to talk the issues over. B. It is less adversarial than a due process hearing. C. The school district can only have their attorney attend, if you bring an attorney. D. An advocate may go with you to the resolution session. E. The school district must send a person who has decision making power. F. The meeting may result in an agreement that is legally binding. G. The resolution may be voided within 3 business days of the agreement being made. This may make school personnel more willing to try and reach an agreement with you.The Cons of the resolution meeting are: A. The district may try and use the resolution meeting to see what your evidence is. B. No guarantee that a written agreement will be reached. C. Sometimes things are so adversarial, that another chance to meet in the same room is not really helpful. D. No third party making a decision about who has the stronger evidence. E. The agreement may be voided within 5 business days. This one is a pro and con because it allows special education personnel to get out of an agreed upon settlement. You can also void the settlement agreement, if you change your mind.To increase your chances of making an agreement bring very little documentation with you. Bring a pad and paper, copies of IDEA 2004, and your state special education regulations, and just a little documentation. If you have an Independent Evaluation you can bring that with you, also copies of your child’s district and state wide testing if it helps your case. By only bringing minimal documentation, it prevents the school district from getting a preview of your case.If you choose to bring an advocate, make sure that they are experienced in the resolution meeting, and also have a working knowledge of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Also bring a typed list of what you are willing to agree to, and what you are not willing to agree to. A lot of settlement agreements do not contain compensatory services, because most school districts do not offer them in settlement agreements. It is up to you about whether you are willing to give up compensatory services, for other items that you want.If you and special education personnel come to an agreement, it may be enforced in state or federal court. The reason is, that IDEA 2004 has added Legally Binding Settlement Agreements. Before IDEA 2004, mediation agreements could not be enforced in court.If you and the school district cannot come to an agreement the due process will continue according to the IDEA 2004 timelines.It is worth your time, to try and come to a resolution before due process. Due process is a tedious, gut wrenching, adversarial way to resolve disputes. Give the resolution meeting a try to resolve special education disputes.

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