When either party requests a due process hearing, the requesting party must provide the other party with a Due Process Complaint Notice (which is to remain confidential). The Notice must include identifying information about the child, nature of the problem, facts and a proposed resolution. No hearing may occur until Notice is served.
Within 15 days of receiving the parent’s Due Process Complaint Notice, the school district is required to convene a resolution meeting, the purpose of which is to provide the parties with an opportunity to resolve their complaint before a due process hearing. It is not a PPT meeting or a mediation. The district must send relevant members of the PPT team who have knowledge of the facts in the complaint and a district representative who has decision-making authority, i.e., settlement authority. The district may not include its attorney unless parents bring their attorney.
The resolution meeting may be waived by the district and parents in writing or if both parties agree to use the mediation process instead.
Ask for an advisory opinion
Connecticut also offers an Advisory Opinion Process, a streamlined hearing, during which the parties offer basic evidence and the testimony of witnesses. The hearing officer renders an oral opinion based upon the information. An advisory opinion is nonbinding. If the parents or the school district disagree with the hearing officer’s opinion, either party may pursue other forms of resolution, such as mediation or a due process hearing.
Assignment of hearing officers
The State Dept. of Education contracts with qualified individuals to serve as hearing officers and, upon receipt of a due process hearing request, assigns a hearing officer to conduct the hearing. Hearing officers must be knowledgeable about the law, federal and state regulations and case law. They must have the knowledge and ability to conduct hearings and write decisions in accordance with appropriate standard legal practice. Hearing officers are neither current nor former State Dept. of Education employees.
File a complaint with the State Department of Education
This process is for complaints alleging that the public school district has violated a substantive requirement of federal or state law regarding special education. It is separate from mediation and a due process hearing. If parents wish to file a complaint, they must do so by writing directly to the Complaint Resolution Officer. (Address on the complaint form.) If your complaint is similar in facts and scope to other complaints within your district (i.e., is systemic), you may ask the State Dept. to conduct a district-wide review.