37 Due Process and Compliance Complaints


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37.2  Compliance Complaints
37.3  Due Process Complaints

37.1    Introduction 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes procedural safeguards for parents in the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) process. Included in the procedural safeguards is the opportunity to participate in a process to resolve disagreements or issues related to Special Education between the parents and the district. 

 The Due Process office:

  • Negotiates agreements but does not take over case management. 
  • Contacts appropriate personnel regarding implementation of resolution or settlement agreements and monitors implementation of these agreements.
  • Processes reimbursements as stipulated on resolution or settlement agreements but, should an IEP be required, the school site is responsible for holding the IEP meeting.  

Parents may file a compliance complaint or a request for a due process hearing. 

 

37.2    Compliance Complaints

 

A compliance complaint is a complaint filed with the California Department of Education (CDE) alleging that the district has not complied with California or federal special education laws.  As an example, the law requires key team members to participate in all IEP team meetings. If one of the required participants does not attend an IEP team meeting, a parent could file a compliance complaint alleging that the district failed to comply with legal requirements.  CDE employs a staff of consultants who investigate compliance complaints and issue reports indicating whether the school district has complied with the law.  If the district is found out of compliance, CDE will order corrective actions. 

 

Within San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), the Special Education Due Process Hearings and Mediation Office receives all CDE compliance complaints.  When a complaint is received, a case is opened and the school site is notified.  The school site Principal and Special Education Site Administrator receive a copy of the complaint with a cover memo from the Special Education Program Manager in the Due Process Hearings and Mediation office that describes information they must provide to the Due Process office as part of the investigation.  This investigation may involve review of records, telephone and/or personal interviews.  When the Due Process Special Education Program Manager concludes the District’s investigation, a written response to the allegations is prepared and a report is sent to CDE.  

When CDE concludes their investigation and issues a final investigation report, the Due Process Special Education Program Manager receives the report and informs the school site Principal and Special Education Site administrator of the required corrective actions (if any), required documentation of completion of the corrective action(s), due dates and the individual(s) responsible for the completion of the corrective action(s).  Evidence of completion of the corrective action(s) must be sent to the Due Process office no later than the due date indicated by CDE. 

It is the school site’s responsibility to complete all corrective actions required and provide evidence to the Due Process office.  Then, the Due Process Special Education Program Manager provides evidence to CDE that the required corrective actions have been completed and, upon CDE verification of completion of corrective actions and notice of compliance, closes the case.

 

37.3    Due Process Complaints

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Due Process is a formal, legal method for resolution of a disagreement or issue related to the Special Education IEP process.  The district or the parent(s) may request a Due Process Hearing.  

 

Once the parent or district files a request for a due process hearing, the student remains in the last agreed upon educational placement and continues to receive the last agreed upon services until the matter is resolved through resolution, mediation or by a hearing officer.  This is referred to as “stay put.”  In addition, all timelines and legal requirements continue to apply.  As an example, if an annual review is due during this time, the district must hold the review.  The IEP process does not stop because a due process hearing has been requested.  It is imperative that the district follows all required procedures as procedural violations are taken into consideration by the hearing officer and often affect the outcome of the case.

 

When a parent files a request for a due process hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) notifies the district’s Due Process Hearings and Mediation Office.  The Due Process Hearings and Mediation Office notifies the school site Principal and the Special Education Site Administrator that a case has been filed, and requests records and information regarding the case.  Records and information should be delivered to the Due Process office within 72 hours due to legal timelines that begin when OAH receives the request for due process hearing. 

 

Original records should always remain at the school site and never be sent to the Due Process office.  Only copies of the student’s records should be sent to the Due Process office.

 

 

When the parent or district files a request for a due process hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), the case is opened and the following may occur to resolve the case:

  • Resolution Session
  • Mediation Session
  • Due Process Hearing 

 

37.3.1     Resolution Session

Resolution is a required part of the process unless both parties agree to waive resolution.  Parties (parents and district) meet without a mediator in an effort to resolved disagreements or issues filed with OAH.  If parties resolve the issues of the due process filing in resolution, a legally binding agreement will be completed and signed by both parties (parent and the district).  A copy of the agreement will be provided to staff responsible for implementing the agreement.

 

37.3.2      Mediation Session

Mediation is a voluntary process.   Generally, school site staff are not asked to participate in the mediation.  Prior to the mediation, however, the Special Education Program Manager from the Due Process Hearings and Mediation office may need to consult with school staff and/or administration.  

OAH assigns a mediator (often an administrative law judge) who contacts both parties to see if they wish to engage in mediation.  The mediator is not a decision maker but offers the opportunity for the parties to work out a settlement agreement prior to a due process hearing.  If the disagreements or issues are not resolved in mediation or should the parties not agree to mediate, a formal due process hearing is scheduled and held before a hearing officer.  Until a hearing officer makes a decision during the due process hearing, the student is in “stay put” and must remain in their current educational placement.  If the matter is resolved in mediation, a legally binding agreement will be completed and signed by both the parent and the district.  A copy of the agreement will be provided to staff responsible for implementing the agreement.  

 

37.3.3      Due Process Hearing

 

If the matter is not resolved in mediation, a formal hearing will be scheduled.  OAH assigns a hearing officer who hears testimony from both sides and issues a binding, legal decision. 

 

Legal counsel representing the District handles all hearings.  Legal counsel will contact staff to be called as witnesses to review the case. The hearing is held at the Due Process office or, on occasion, at a downtown location.  Once both parties have pleaded their case, the hearing officer prepares a written decision within 45 days of the last day of hearing.  The Due Process Hearings and Mediation office will work with staff to ensure the hearing officer’s decision is implemented.

 

If the district is considering filing for Due Process, the Special Education Site Administrator for the school site’s area must complete a request for due process memorandum, and submit it to the Director of Special Education for review prior to submitting the request and supporting required documentation to the Due Process Hearings and Mediation office.  Once received, the Special Education Program Manager for the Due Process office will review the request and documentation to determine if the matter should be filed.  If it is filed, the school site principal and Special Education Site Administrator will receive a copy of the filing.  The district will have the opportunity to mediate the matter or go to hearing as is discussed above.  If it is determined that the matter should not be filed, the Special Education Program Manager for the Due Process office will contact the Special Education Site Administrator to discuss next steps. 

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Due Process Office Location and Contact Information:  

Due Process Hearings and Mediation 

San Diego Unified School District 

4100 Normal Street, Annex 7 

San Diego, CA 92103 

Phone:  619-725-7794 

Fax:  619-725-7424

 

Jennifer Parks-Orozco

Special Education Program Manager

Email:  jparks-orozco@sandi.net  

          

Brian Spry             

Special Education Administrator 

Email:  bspry@sandi.net

 

Ed Baisley 
Special Education Administrator 

 

Sonya Sandrik

Email:  ssandrik@sandi.net      

 

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