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Hearing Officer Determination

Washington D.C. Lawyers for IEP Hearings

Parents who believe their child’s educational rights are being violated due to their school’s failure to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) can ask for a due process hearing or mediation before a neutral hearing officer. If you have struggled to get an IEP in place for your disabled child and need to file a due process complaint, you should consult the experienced Washington D.C. special education lawyers of the Law Office of Matthew T. Famiglietti. It’s important to take certain steps before and after a Hearing Officer Determination to protect your child’s interests, and we work hard to provide our clients with outstanding legal representation.

Hearing Officer Determination

In the course of a due process hearing for an IEP under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) both you and the Washington D.C. school your child attends will have an opportunity to make opening and closing statements and present evidence. The evidence may include both witness testimony and documentary evidence. A hearing officer will preside over this hearing. This person is supposed to be neutral and is empowered to administer oaths, take testimony, and make legal and factual findings in connection with your disabled child’s education.

The hearing officer’s decision, set forth in writing in a Hearing Officer Determination, and then given to both the parents and the school, is the final administrative decision. It is based only on evidence provided at the hearing, which makes it crucial to seek knowledgeable legal counsel to represent you in the proceeding. The determination should be sent to you by certified mail or email at the latest by 75 days after you filed the complaint, except when the hearing officer has granted an extension of time.

The Hearing Officer Determination will specify who the parties are, the decision of the hearing officer, and any appeal rights the parties have. It should also include the reasoning of how the hearing officer arrived at her findings of fact and findings of law. The school, parents, and child will be able to ascertain from the Hearing Officer Determination what steps need to be followed to implement the determination.

The hearing officer may dismiss your case with prejudice or without prejudice. When a case is dismissed with prejudice, there is no right to refile the case. Otherwise, our attorneys may be able to refile your case.

Expedited Hearings in Washington D.C.

Some children are entitled to a due process hearing on an expedited basis. For instance, you may be able to get an expedited hearing if your child was suspended or expelled or your child’s placement was changed for more than 10 school days in a year because of his or her violation of a student conduct code or behavioral issue related to a disability. When a child is eligible for this hearing, it is supposed to be conducted within 20 school days after you filed the due process complaint. In that case, the Hearing Officer Determination will be due within 10 school days of the hearing.

Implementation of the Hearing Officer Determination

Schools and parents are supposed to make sure the Hearing Officer Determination is implemented. The precise requirements of implementation depend on the determination. For instance, the hearing officer may order the school to provide certain accommodations or put your child in a different class. There are even situations in which the Hearing Officer Determination includes reimbursement for private school tuition. Your child’s school is required to implement the determination within a specified timeline.

Washington D.C. parents and the school may agree to binding mediation. If, instead of a Hearing Officer Determination, there is a binding written statement at which the parties arrive through mediation, they are required to follow that agreement.

Appeals

You may be entitled to appeal a Hearing Officer Determination if you are unhappy with it. Our attorneys only have 90 days from the Hearing Officer Determination to file an appeal with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The district court receives any record of administrative proceedings, hears information you or the school asks it to hear, and decides based on the evidence. If you don’t file an appeal in the 90-day period, you can lose your entitlement to have the court review the administrative decision, so it is crucial to talk to our attorneys at the earliest possible time to make sure your child’s interests are protected.

Hire Our Washington D.C. Law Firm

If you are worried about a hearing officer determination, you should discuss your situation with our experienced Washington D.C. special education lawyer Matthew T. Famiglietti. Mr. Famiglietti represents students with disabilities in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. Complete our online form or call the Law Office of Matthew T. Famiglietti at (202) 669-5880.

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