§ 14.162. Impartial due process hearing and expedited due process hearing.
(a) In addition to the requirements incorporated by reference in 34 CFR 300.504 (relating to procedural safeguard notice), with regard to a student who is mentally retarded or thought to be mentally retarded, a notice when mailed shall be issued to the parent by certified mail (addressee only, return receipt requested).
(b) If parents disagree with the school districts, or the early intervention agencys in the case of a young child, identification, evaluation, or placement of, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the student or young child, the parent may request an impartial due process hearing.
(c) A school district or early intervention agency may request a hearing to proceed with an initial evaluation or a reevaluation when a parent fails to respond to the district or early intervention agencys proposed evaluation or reevaluation. When a parent rejects the district or early intervention agencys proposed identification of a child, proposed evaluation, proposed provision of a free appropriate public education or proposed educational placement, other than the initial placement, the school district or early intervention agency may request an impartial due process hearing. If the parent fails to respond or refuses to consent to the initial provision of special education services, neither due process nor mediation may be used to obtain agreement or a ruling that the services may be provided.
(d) The hearing for a school aged child with a disability or thought to be a child with a disability shall be held in the school district at a place and time reasonably convenient to the parents and child involved. A hearing for an eligible young child or thought to be an eligible young child shall be conducted at a place and time reasonably convenient to the parents and child involved. These options shall be set forth in the notice provided for requesting a hearing.
(e) The hearing shall be an oral, personal hearing and shall be closed to the public unless the parents request an open hearing. If the hearing is open, the decision issued in the case, and only the decision, shall be available to the public. If the hearing is closed, the decision shall be treated as a record of the student or young child and may not be available to the public.
(f) The decision of the hearing officer shall include findings of fact, discussion and conclusions of law. Although technical rules of evidence will not be followed, the decision shall be based solely upon the substantial evidence presented at the hearing.
(g) The hearing officer shall have the authority to order that additional evidence be presented.
(h) A written or at the option of the parents, electronic verbatim record of the hearing shall, upon request, be made and provided to parents at no cost.
(i) Parents may be represented by legal counsel and accompanied and advised by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to the problems of children with disabilities.
(j) A parent or parents representative shall be given access to educational records, including any tests or reports upon which the proposed action is based.
(k) A party may prohibit the introduction of evidence at the hearing that has not been disclosed to that party at least 5-business days before the hearing.
(l) A party has the right to compel the attendance of and question witnesses who may have evidence upon which the proposed action might be based.
(m) A party has the right to present evidence and testimony, including expert medical, psychological or educational testimony.
(n) A party to a hearing has the right to obtain written, or, at the option of the parents, electronic findings of fact and decisions.
(o) The decision of the hearing officer regarding a child with a disability or thought to be a child with a disability may be appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction. In notifying the parties of the decision, the hearing officer shall indicate the courts to which an appeal may be taken.
(p) The following applies to coordination services for hearings and to hearing officers:
(1) The Secretary may contract for coordination services for hearings related to a child with a disability or thought to be a child with a disability. The coordination services may include arrangements for stenographic services, arrangements for hearing officer services (including the compensation of hearing officers), scheduling of hearings and other functions in support of procedural consistency and the rights of the parties to hearings. The compensation of hearing officers does not cause them to become employees of the Department.
(2) A hearing officer may not be an employee or agent of the school entity in which the parents or the child with a disability or thought to be a child with a disability resides, or of an agency that is responsible for the education or care of the child with a disability or thought to be a child with a disability or by a person having a personal or professional interest that would conflict with the persons objectivity in the hearing. A hearing officer shall promptly inform the parties of a personal or professional relationship the officer has or has had with any of the parties.
(q) The following time line applies to due process hearings:
(1) A hearing shall be held after the conclusion of the resolution session under 34 CFR 300.510 (relating to resolution process) or after one of the parties withdraws from mediation or the parties agree to waive or agree to end the resolution session.
(2) The hearing officers decision shall be issued within 45 days after the resolution or mediation session ends without resolution or agreement date.
(3) A hearing officer may grant specific extensions of time beyond the periods in paragraphs (1) and (2) at the request of either party.
(4) If an expedited hearing is conducted under 34 CFR 300.532 (relating to appeals), the hearing officer decision shall be mailed within 30 school days of the public agencys receipt of the request for the hearing without exceptions or extensions.
(r) Each school district and early intervention agency shall keep a list of the persons who serve as hearing officers. The list must include the qualifications of each hearing officer. School districts and early intervention agencies shall provide parents with information as to the availability of the list and shall make copies of it available upon request.
(s) Except as provided in 34 CFR 300.533 (relating to placement during appeals), during the pendency of any mediation proceeding conducted in accordance with 34 CFR 300.506 (relating to mediation), unless the school entity and the parents of the child agree otherwise, the child that is the subject of the mediation shall remain in the current education placement until the mediation process is concluded.
(t) The Department will report to the Board by September 1 each year on the number of impartial due process hearings held during the previous school year. The report will also provide a Statewide summary of the results of the hearings in a manner that will not violate the confidentiality of children and families. The report will also address actions taken during the previous school year and future plans to strengthen the activities of due process hearing proceedings.
The provisions of this § 14.162 amended under sections 1372 and 2603-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § § 13-1372 and 26-2603-B).
The provisions of this § 14.162 adopted June 8, 2001, effective June 9, 2001, 31 Pa.B. 3021; amended April 30, 2004, effective May 1, 2004, 34 Pa.B. 2324; amended June 27, 2008, effective July 1, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 3575. Immediately preceeding text appears at serial pages (307722), (293077), (303793) to (303794) and (307723).
Notes of Decisions
Parents/complainants had no right to appeal a determination of a consumer complaint in which the parents alleged a general failure to provide a preconference hearing and a due process hearing. Complainants are not considered a party to a proceeding before the Department upon the filing of a consumer complaint and, therefore, may not file an appeal of a decision. Wolfe v. Lower Merion School District, 801 A.2d 639 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002).
This section cited in 22 Pa. Code § 11.34 (relating to excusals from attendance for other than temporary reasons).
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