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Checklist: Preparing for Dispute Resolution

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

If you have a dispute with your child’s school, it’s important to understand and think through your options.

Preparing for Mediation

  • Where and when will the meeting or mediation take place?

  • Do I have all my child’s important records?

  • Are these records organized?

  • What are my goals for the meeting or mediation?

  • What are the points I want to make? Do I have objective data backing me up?

  • How might the school respond to my points?

  • Do I know what the law says about my dispute?

  • Will I make an opening statement? (Some mediations start with this. Contact the mediator of your session if you’re unsure.)

  • Will I bring someone like a lawyer, an education advocate, or even just a friend?

  • What does the school want? What are the school’s interests?

  • What offers will I consider? What offers will I reject? Are there “win-win” options?

  • What’s my best option if we don’t reach an agreement?

  • After the meeting, will I send the school a letter about what was discussed? (This isn’t required, but it can be helpful to document what happened at the session.)

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Filing a Due Process Complaint

  • Am I filing within two years of the problem? (If not, the complaint might not be allowed.)

  • Do I need a lawyer or education advocate?

  • Have I looked at my state’s rules about due process complaints?

  • Did I put my complaint into writing (rather than just calling, for example)?

  • Does my complaint have my child’s name, address, and school information?

  • Does my complaint have my name, address, and contact information?

  • Did I sign the complaint?

  • Does my complaint describe the dispute and include facts about it?

  • Does my complaint have a proposed solution?

  • Have I included all issues in the complaint? (If it’s not in the complaint, it might not be allowed later at the due process hearing.)

  • Have I provided a copy to the school district and to the state department of education?

Preparing for a Due Process or Impartial Hearing

  • Where will the hearing take place? When? Who is the hearing officer?

  • Do I need a lawyer or an education advocate? Will the school have a lawyer?

  • Have I looked at my state’s rules about due process hearings?

  • Do I want to have the hearing open to the public?

  • Do I want my child to come to the hearing?

  • What’s my legal argument for winning? What do I need to prove to win?

  • What evidence will my lawyer or advocate present at the hearing?

  • Do I have all my child’s important documents, such as evaluations and test results? Do I have all letters and emails with the school?

  • Are these records organized? Do I have a handy list of all the records?

  • What witnesses will my lawyer or advocate call at the hearing? Have the witnesses been notified? (State rules require this.)

  • Do all witnesses know how to get to the hearing and when?

  • What questions will be asked of each witness?

  • In what order will witnesses be called?

  • Is my attorney or advocate ready to give the school district and hearing officer a list of all possible witnesses and evidence at least five days before the hearing?

  • Has the attorney or advocate looked at the list of witnesses and evidence from the school district? Are we prepared to respond? Are we ready to question these witnesses?

  • Have opening and closing statements been prepared?

Filing a State Complaint

  • Am I filing a within one year of the problem? (If not, the complaint might not be allowed.)

  • Do I need help from a lawyer or education advocate?

  • Have I looked at my state’s rules about state complaints?

  • Have I put my complaint into writing (rather than just calling, for example)?

  • Does the complaint have a statement that the school district violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?

  • Does the complaint include facts that support the violation of IDEA?

  • Does my complaint have my child’s name, address, and school information?

  • Does my complaint have my name, address, and contact information?

  • Did I sign the complaint?

  • Does my complaint have a proposed solution?

  • Have I provided a copy to the school district and to the state department of education?

Find out more about mediation sessions and due process hearings.

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  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom