After the IEP Hearing: What’s Next
After the exhausting ordeal of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) hearing, it’s tempting to hibernate on the couch watching reruns or playing with Pinterest to decompress. Unfortunately, your work is not yet over.
Immediately After the Hearing
Review your notes taken during the hearing. Flesh them out, adding details from your memory. Write down any key points that the school district representative made or any information brought up by witnesses that you had not anticipated. Make a note of any other points that you could have brought up to support your case.
You are legally entitled to receive a verbatim record of the hearing. This may be a written record or it may be in electronic format. Depending on the state in which you reside, you may automatically be provided with a copy or you may have to request it from the court reporter. Do so as soon as possible.
You and the school district have the right to submit your own post-hearing briefs. You may decline, of course, but submitting a post-hearing brief is an opportunity to expand upon your evidence and address any unexpected information that may have come up during the hearing. Typically, you have a week to submit the brief after the hearing.
Before writing your brief, review the verbatim record of the hearing if it was made available to you in time. Go over your notes and the exhibits you used during the hearing. Review the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations that apply to your case. Write the brief by discussing the evidence and regulations that are in support of your case. Discuss why the evidence does not support the school district’s platform. If you hired a lawyer, have him review your brief before you submit it to the hearing officer.
You will receive a written statement of the hearing officer’s decision. The decision will describe why the hearing officer has determined that your child has or hasn’t received a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). Typically, you can expect the decision to arrive within 45 days.
Consider an Appeal
If the hearing officer found in favor of the school district, you have the right to file an appeal. If you do not file an appeal, the hearing officer’s decision is final and must be implemented. In some states, you must appeal the decision by bringing a civil action in court. In other states, you may file an appeal with the State Education Agency (SEA).
Before you file an appeal, reconsider your case. Even if you represented yourself during the hearing, have an attorney review the case to determine if it has a chance during an appeal. It’s also strongly recommended that you have an attorney represent your case for an appeal. Consider whether you have the resources for the additional attorney fees. If you do decide to file an appeal, check your state’s guidelines. In most states, you have 90 days to file the appeal.