IDEA wisely includes multiple mechanisms that families and schools can use to resolve disputes associated with the education of children with disabilities. These include: written State complaints, mediation, due process complaints, resolution meetings, and due process hearings.
Indicator 18, shown in bold below, deals with hearing requests that are resolved by “resolution sessions.” Indicators 16, 17, and 19 address other methods of resolving disputes under IDEA (State complaint, due process, and mediation, respectively). The four indicators are often discussed together, since they are fall under the overarching goal of “timely dispute resolution.”
Percent of hearing requests that went to resolution sessions that were resolved through resolution session settlement agreements. [20 U.S.C. 1416(a)(3)(B)]
A Bit of Context
When due process is used as a way to resolve disputes, parents and the school present evidence before an impartial third person (called a hearing officer), and he or she decides how to resolve the problem based upon that evidence and the requirements of the IDEA. Filing a due process complaint is the first step in the process that may lead to a due process hearing.
When a school system receives a due process complaint, it has specific, time-sensitive responsibilities to carry out. Within 15 days, the school system must convene a resolution meeting (unless the parties agree to use mediation or waive the resolution meeting). The purpose of the meeting is to give the parties the opportunity to resolve the issues in the due process complaint without holding a due process hearing. This goal is the point of Indicator 18—to resolve disputes without going to a due process hearing.
Resources to Support Data Gathering for Indicator 18
Guidance documents on Indicator 18.
Resources from CADRE.
State programs under Part B and Part C of IDEA are required to submit an Annual Performance Report (APR) on their State Performance Plan (SPP) progress. CADRE has assembled resources to assist states with the four dispute resolution indicators (Indicators 16, 17, 18, and 19) addressed in the SPP/APRs.
How are we doing?
What’s the current status on states’ timely resolution of disputes? Find out in the synthesis below from 2011. Indicator 18 is discussed in combination with the other three indicators as well (16, 17, and 19), all of which deal with dispute resolution.
Resources to Support Dispute Resolution
Understand each of the dispute resolution options under IDEA.
NICHCY devotes an entire section of its website to Dispute Resolution Options. There’s a quick overview, if you want to crash course or a fast refresher, and they are detailed explanations as well. Enter the section, at:
Find the same information in Spanish.
Go to the experts at CADRE.
The Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) works to increase the nation’s capacity to effectively resolve special education disputes, reducing the use of expensive adversarial processes. CADRE works with state and local education and early intervention systems, parent centers, families and educators to improve programs and results for children with disabilities. Lots of resources are available in both English and Spanish.
Call on your state’s PTI.
Each state has a parent training and information center—-the PTI. These centers can be very helpful to families needing information and guidance about disputes with school systems concerning the education of their child with a disability. Find your PTI by visiting NICHCY’s State Resource Sheet page. Select your state, set the drop-down menu to Organizations for Parents, and the resource sheet will automatically display. The PTI will be listed.