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Understanding Due Process

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If the parents and school district do not agree on special education services, parents have three options:

  • Requesting mediation
  • Filing a complaint
  • Requesting a due process hearing

At Hollingsworth & Zivitz, we work hard to provide you with the legal representation you need and deserve. We advocate on your behalf and guide you through the various options available to you, helping you understand the legalities of each one. When it comes to compassionate and high-quality legal counsel, we are the right choice.


This is a confidential, voluntary form of settlement conference. A neutral third party meets with the parents and school district in an effort to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. The mediator cannot require the parties to settle a case; both sides need to agree in order for the settlement to be legally binding.

Filing a complaint

A complaint is a formal charge that the school has violated state or federal law, usually by failing to implement something required by the child’s IEP. It may also claim that the school is doing something which is prohibited by law.

There are specific rules which govern the filing of a complaint, including the form and content, and filing the complaint within the legal time limit. Once the complaint is filed, the State Department of Education will assign an investigator. There are legal safeguards and rules which govern the procedure in the event you or the school disagrees with the investigator’s report. You should consult a lawyer who can assist you in drafting and filing a complaint so that it complies with the law.

Due Process Hearing in Hamilton County

Parents with a grievance may request a due process hearing before an independent hearing officer (IHO). Typically, the IHO is a neutral third party but does not have to be an attorney. The hearing officer sets up a pre-hearing conference with you and the school’s representative.

The actual hearing is less formal than a trial. Both the parents and the school are permitted to present witnesses and evidence in support of their respective positions and give a short closing argument. Shortly after the hearing, the IHO will mail his or her ruling to both sides. If either side disagrees with the IHO’s decision following a due process hearing, either side can request an appeal.

Educational due process hearings can be a lengthy and confusing process. You should consult our Carmel education law attorneys to advise you and protect your child’s rights.

When you need our help, we’re here for you. Schedule your initial case review today. Call Hollingsworth & Zivitz at 317.DIVORCE to begin building your case.

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