Resolution Meeting FAQs
It’s easy to get lost in the mountains of paperwork and miles of red tape that comes with the special education process. And it seems like there’s always one more hurdle to clear before your child gets access to the services he needs. After you file a due process complaint about your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), you can’t automatically jump right to the due process hearing, for example. First, you’ll need to attend the resolution meeting, which is similar to mediation. The purpose of the resolution meeting is to hammer out an agreement so that both parties can (possibly) avoid the due process hearing. You’ll have lots of prep work to do to get ready for the meeting, so here’s a quick guide to the basics.
How is a resolution meeting different from mediation?
The most glaring difference between a resolution meeting and mediation is that the law does not require a neutral third-party facilitator to be present. You and the school representatives will usually negotiate by yourselves. The other main difference is that the confidentiality of the proceedings is protected in mediation, whereas it is not protected in resolution meetings.
When does a resolution meeting take place?
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), resolution meetings must take place within 15 days of the filing of the due process complaint. If the school district fails to make efforts to hold the resolution meeting during that time period, you may request the intervention of a hearing officer.
How soon after the resolution meeting does a due process hearing take place?
According to IDEA regulations, proceedings for a due process hearing must begin within 45 days after the expiration of the initial 30-day time period (which began when the complaint was filed). However, there may be some adjustments to these time periods.
The 45-day time period may begin the day after one of these events occurs:
- Both parties agree in writing to begin mediation, but one of the parties later withdraws from mediation.
- Both parties agree in writing that a resolution is not possible.
- Both parties agree in writing to waive the resolution meeting.
Who will be there?
Both of the child’s parents and the IEP team members are likely to be there. It’s possible that some of the IEP team members may not attend if they do not have direct knowledge of the facts relating to the due process complaint. The school district must have a representative present who is authorized to make binding decisions on behalf of the school. You may bring a special education advocate. Some school districts may also have a facilitator present, however this is not required by law.
Will any attorneys be there?
Possibly. You have the option to hire an attorney. The school district is only allowed to have an attorney present if you also have an attorney.
I’d rather just go to the hearing. What happens if I do not attend the resolution meeting?
If you believe that no solution is possible, inform the school district that you wish to waive the resolution meeting. You and the school district representative must agree in writing to do so. If this does not occur and you do not attend the resolution meeting, the school district can ask the hearing officer to dismiss the complaint at the end of the 30-day time period. In order to do so, they must document their efforts to obtain your participation.
What if we can’t come to an agreement?
You and the school district have the option of going to mediation instead. Otherwise, the issue will be resolved in a due process hearing. The hearing officer must issue a decision from the due process hearing within 45 days after the initial 30-day time period.
If we do come to an agreement, is it binding?
Any agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is binding and it is enforceable. However, there’s a grace period, called an “agreement review period.” Either party may choose to void the agreement within three business days of its execution.
What happens after the resolution meeting?
You’ve waded through the paperwork and negotiated until you were blue in the face. Maybe you came to an agreement. Maybe not. Either way, you need to blow off some steam before you prepare for the next bureaucratic battle. Avoid using the stress of the resolution meeting as an excuse to sit on the couch eating bon bons. Instead, go for a relaxing, barefoot run to relieve your stress or take a refreshing dip in the pool. Remember that taking care of your family includes taking care of yourself, as well.