Due Process Complaint and Hearing
You are entitled to an impartial due process hearing conducted by the state when a dispute arises over the identification, evaluation, educational placement, manifestation determination, interim alternative educational placement, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child. The school district is also entitled to an impartial due process hearing. To put this dispute resolution process in motion, you must first file a due process complaint.
Parents can file a request for an expedited due process hearing if you disagree with a discipline-related decision by the school district which impacts your child’s placement or if you disagree with a manifestation determination. A school district can file a request for an expedited due process hearing if they believe that maintaining the current placement for a student is substantially likely to result in injury to the student or to others.
Parents Need to Know
- Why request:If you have a dispute with the school district over the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education to your child. If your dispute is over a manifestation determination or discipline-related decision affecting your child's placement, you can file an expedited due process complaint.
- How to file: Complete a Due Process Complaint and Request for Hearing form and send it to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). The school district can also file a complaint. NOTE: Legal representation is not required, but guidance from an attorney can be helpful to parents for this legal process. School districts often use an attorney.
- Timeline: You must file your complaint within two years of the date you knew or should have known about the alleged action that forms the basis of the complaint. Within 15 days of receiving notice of your complaint, the school district must arrange for a Resolution Meeting. If your complaint is not resolved within 30 days of the receipt of the due process complaint, the timeline for a due process hearing begins. If you file an expedited due process complaint, an expedited due process hearing must be held within 20 school days.
- Decision maker: If resolved through a Resolution Meeting, the parent and school district. If the complaint goes to a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings.
- Outcome: If the complaint goes to a hearing, a legally binding decision may be issued within 75 days from the date the complaint is filed, but this time frame is often extended for good cause. After an expedited due process hearing, a decision must be issued within 10 school days. Either party may appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals within 60 calendar days or to federal district court within 90 calendar days.
Important Things to Think About if a Due Process Complaint Goes to a Hearing
- A due process hearing officer is presided over by an OAH Administrative Law Judge who is qualified to conduct this proceeding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Minnesota Statutes, Section 125A.091. In Minnesota, due process hearing officers are trained annually by the Minnesota Department of Education in current statutes, regulations, case law and procedural requirements.
- The decision of the hearing officer is legally binding. When received, either party may appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals within 60 days or to federal district court within 90 days.
- While parents are not required to have legal representation for a due process hearing, guidance from an attorney can be helpful for this legal proceeding. School districts usually involve an attorney. MDE publishes a list of free or low-cost legal resources for parents to consult.
- The burden of proof in any due process hearing is on the party who requested the proceeding. In other words, if a parent’s due process complaint results in a hearing, then the parent is obligated to prove his or her case to the hearing officer. If the school district due process complaint results in a hearing, then the school district is obligated to prove its case.
- Special Education Due Process Hearings — Minnesota Department of Education
- Minnesota Statutes: 125A.091 Alternative Dispute Resolution and Due Process Hearings
- Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC)
The Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) addresses the unique legal needs of persons with disabilities. A statewide project, MDLC provides free civil legal assistance to individuals with disabilities on legal issues that are related to their disability.
- IDEA Special Education Due Process Complaints Parent Guide & Companion Video — National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)