Due Process Complaints and Hearings
Parents have the right to file a due process complaint to resolve a dispute with the school district over the identification, evaluation, educational placement, manifestation determination, interim alternative educational placement, or the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to a student with a disability. The school district can also file a due process complaint.
If a parent files a due process complaint, within 15 days of receiving notice of a parent’s due process complaint the school district must arrange for a resolution meeting with the parent and relevant members of the IEP team who have knowledge of the facts alleged in the due process complaint. Both parties may agree in writing to participate in a Mediation instead of a resolution meeting.
If the due process complaint is not resolved within 30 days, the timelines for a due process hearing begin.
Parents can file a request for an expedited due process hearing if they disagree with a discipline-related decision by the school district which impacts their child’s placement or if they 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 the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education to your child with a disability. If you have a dispute with the school district over a manifestation determination or a discipline-related decision affecting your child’s placement, you can file an expedited due process complaint.
- How to file: Download and complete a Due Process Complaint and Request for Hearing form and send it directly to [email protected]
- Who is involved: Parents and school district staff. The school district usually has legal representation, but attorneys are not required for either party. If the complaint goes to a due process hearing, an Administrative Law Judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings, trained in federal and state special education law, will preside over the hearing.
- Timeline: The complaint must be filed within two years of the date the parent or the school district knew or should have known about the alleged action that forms the basis of the complaint. A decision may be issued within 75 calendar days from the date a due process complaint is filed, but this time frame is often extended for good cause. Expedited due process hearings must be held within 20 school days from the date an expedited due process complaint is filed, and a decision must be issued within 10 school days after the hearing. The time frames for expedited due process complaints cannot be extended.
- Decision maker: Administrative Law Judge
- Outcome: A legally binding decision issued by the Administrative Law Judge. 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)