The federal regulations for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes many provisions to protect the rights of parents and their child with a disability while also giving families and school systems means by which to resolve disputes. These rights are known as procedural safeguards. Parents have specific rights under this law regarding appeals for due process decisions under 34 CFR &300.514.
A decision made in a due process hearing which also including any hearing relating to disciplinary procedures is final, except that any party involved in the hearing (either you or the school district) may appeal the decision by bring a civil action. The State education agency must ensure that not later than forty-five (45) calendar day after the expiration of the thirty day calendar period for resolution a final decision is reached in the hearing and a copy of the decision is mailed to each of the parties.
Any party (either you or the school district) who does not agree with the findings and the decision in the due process hearing as well as a hearing relating to disciplinary procedures has the right to bring a civil action with respect to the matter that was the subject of the due process hearing. The action may be brought in a State court of competent jurisdiction that is a State court that has authority to hear this type of case or in a district court of the United States without regard to the amount in dispute. The party bringing the action shall have ninety (90) calendar days from the date of the decision of an impartial hearing officer to file a civil action.
In any civil action, the court receives the records of the administrative proceedings, hears additional evidence at your request or the request of the school district, and bases it decision on the preponderance of the evidence. The court then grants the relief that the court determines to be appropriate.
Before any civil action may be taken under the laws of Part B of the IDEA, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and other federal laws protecting the rights of children with disabilities, all due process procedures must be exhausted under Part B of IDEA through the administrative remedies provided in the statutes before going to court.
The next article will discuss attorney fees and the responsibility of payment for due process hearings and civil suits.