Filed Under Chapter 115.80, Wis. Stats., or the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Either the parent/adult student or the school district has the right to request a due process hearing whenever there is a dispute between the parent and the school district over the district's proposal or refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, proposed IEP or portion thereof, the implementation of the IEP, educational placement, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). An alternative dispute resolution option is mediation.
A hearing is requested by sending a letter or a completed sample form (English Fillable - En Espanol - Hmong) to the Department of Public Instruction. The request must include the name and address of the child, the name of the school where the child is attending, a description of the nature of the problem of the child relating to the hearing request, including the facts relating to such problem, and a proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the parents at the time. When a hearing is requested, the Department, by contract with the Division of Hearings and Appeals, appoints an impartial hearing officer to conduct the hearing and sends the parent a notice of the procedural safeguards and a list of free or low-cost legal and other relevant services available in their area.
Prior to the due process hearing, the school district must convene a resolution session where the parents of the child discuss issues leading to their due process hearing request and the school district has an opportunity to resolve these issues. Within 15 days of receiving notice of the parents' hearing request, the school district must convene a meeting with the parents and relevant members of the IEP team who have specific knowledge of the facts identified in the due process hearing request. A school district representative who has decision-making authority for the district must participate in the resolution session. The school district may not have an attorney at the resolution session unless the parent is accompanied by an attorney. The resolution session process must be used unless the parents and school district agree in writing to waive the resolution session or agree to use the mediation process. The department has developed a form to agree to use mediation or waiver the resolution process. See memorandum to districts regarding the resolution process dated April 15, 2010.
When the school district and parents resolve the request for the due process hearing during a resolution session, they must execute a legally binding agreement that is signed by both the parent and a representative of the district who has the authority to bind the district. The agreement must be enforceable in a state court or a district court of the United States.
If the school district has not resolved the request for the due process hearing to the satisfaction of the parents within 30 days of the receipt of the parents’ hearing request, the due process hearing may proceed and all of the applicable timelines for a due process hearing begin. Except where the hearing relates to certain discipline requirements, the hearing officer must issue a written decision based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing within 45 days of completion of the resolution session or waiving of the resolution session. The hearing officer may extend the 45-day timeline, for cause, if the parent or the school district request an extension. The cost of the hearing is paid for by the school district.
The department, after deleting any personally identifiable information, sends a copy of the hearing officer's decision to the state superintendent's Council on Special Education. Many cases are settled informally or by settlement agreements rather than by hearing officer's decisions.
Hearing decisions available are identified by case number, with local level decisions identified by the prefix LEA, second level decisions by the prefix SEA (pre-1996), and court decisions by the prefix CRT. In the case number, the year represents the calendar year in which the case was filed at the local level.