Code Section Group

Education Code - EDC

TITLE 2. ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION [33000 - 64100]

  ( Title 2 enacted by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010. )

DIVISION 4. INSTRUCTION AND SERVICES [46000 - 64100]

  ( Division 4 enacted by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010. )

PART 30. SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS [56000 - 56865]

  ( Part 30 repealed and added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 797, Sec. 9. )

CHAPTER 5. Procedural Safeguards [56500 - 56509]
  ( Chapter 5 added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 797, Sec. 9. )

56500.
  

As used in this chapter, “public agency” is identical to the definition of that term in Section 56028.5 and Section 300.33 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 80. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56500.1.
  

(a) All procedural safeguards under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 and following) shall be established and maintained by each noneducational and educational agency that provides education, related services, or both, to children who are individuals with exceptional needs.

(b) At each individualized education program meeting, the public education agency responsible for convening the meeting shall inform the parent and pupil of the federal and state procedural safeguards that were provided in the notice of parent rights pursuant to Section 56321.

(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 1360, Sec. 19. Effective January 1, 1993.)

56500.2.
  

(a) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a complaint filed with the department regarding any alleged violations of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.), or implementing regulations (Part 300 (commencing with Section 300.1) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations), or a provision of this part, shall be investigated in an expeditious and effective manner in accordance with Sections 300.151 to 300.153, inclusive, of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. A written decision shall be issued to the complainant in accordance with the 60-day time limit specified in Section 300.152 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(2) The party filing the complaint shall forward a copy of the complaint to the local educational agency or public agency serving the child at the same time the party files the complaint with the department, in accordance with Section 300.153(d) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(b) Pursuant to Section 300.153(c) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a complaint filed under subdivision (a) shall allege a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date that the complaint is received by the department.

(c) The complaint shall include all of the following:

(1) A statement that a local educational agency or public agency has violated a requirement of this part or Part B of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Title 20 (commencing with Section 1400) of the United States Code), or Part 300 (commencing with Section 300.1) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(2) The facts on which the statement is based.

(3) The signature and contact information for the complainant.

(4) If alleging violations with respect to a specific child, all of the following:

(A) The name and address of residence of the child.

(B) The name of the school the child is attending.

(C) In the case of a homeless child or youth within the meaning of paragraph (2) of Section 725 of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11434a(2)), available contact information for the child, and the name of the school the child is attending.

(D) A description of the nature of the problem of the child, including facts relating to the problems.

(E) A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time the complaint is filed.

(d) The Superintendent shall develop a model form, pursuant to Section 300.509 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, to assist parents and public agencies in filing a state complaint under this section.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 454, Sec. 27. Effective October 10, 2007.)

56500.3.
  

(a) It is the intent of the Legislature that parties to special education disputes be encouraged to seek resolution through mediation prior to filing a request for a due process hearing. It is also the intent of the Legislature that these voluntary prehearing request mediation conferences be an informal process conducted in a nonadversarial atmosphere to resolve issues relating to the identification, assessment, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child, to the satisfaction of both parties. Therefore, attorneys or other independent contractors used to provide legal advocacy services may not attend or otherwise participate in the prehearing request mediation conferences.

(b) This part does not preclude the parent or the public agency from being accompanied and advised by nonattorney representatives in the mediation conferences and consulting with an attorney prior to or following a mediation conference. For purposes of this section, “attorney” means an active, practicing member of the State Bar of California or another independent contractor used to provide legal advocacy services, but does not mean a parent of the pupil who is also an attorney.

(c) Requesting or participating in a mediation conference is not a prerequisite to requesting a due process hearing.

(d) All requests for a mediation conference shall be filed with the Superintendent. The party initiating a mediation conference by filing a written request with the Superintendent shall provide the other party to the mediation with a copy of the request at the same time the request is filed with the Superintendent. The mediation conference shall be conducted by a person knowledgeable in the process of reconciling differences in a nonadversarial manner and under contract with the department pursuant to Section 56504.5. The mediator shall be knowledgeable in the laws and regulations governing special education.

(e) The prehearing mediation conference shall be scheduled within 15 days of receipt by the Superintendent of the request for mediation. The mediation conference shall be completed within 30 days after receipt of the request for mediation unless both parties to the prehearing mediation conference agree to extend the time for completing the mediation. Pursuant to Section 300.506(b)(4) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and to encourage the use of mediation, the state shall bear the cost of the mediation process, including any meetings described in Section 300.506(b)(2) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The costs of mediation shall be included in the contract described in Section 56504.5.

(f) In accordance with Section 1415(e)(2)(F) of Title 20 of the United States Code, if a resolution is reached that resolves the due process issue through the mediation process, the parties shall execute a legally binding written agreement that sets forth the resolution and that does the following:

(1) States that all discussions that occurred during the mediation process shall be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding.

(2) Is signed by both the parent and the representative of the public agency who has the authority to bind the agency.

(3) Is enforceable in any state court of competent jurisdiction or in a federal district court of the United States.

(g) If the mediation conference fails to resolve the issues to the satisfaction of all parties, the party who requested the mediation conference has the option of filing for a state-level hearing pursuant to Section 56505. The mediator may assist the parties in specifying any unresolved issues to be included in the hearing request.

(h) Any mediation conference held pursuant to this section shall be scheduled in a timely manner and shall be held at a time and place reasonably convenient to the parties to the dispute in accordance with Section 300.506(b)(5) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(i) The mediation conference shall be conducted in accordance with regulations adopted by the board.

(j) (1) Notwithstanding any procedure set forth in this chapter, a public agency and a parent, if the party initiating the mediation conference so chooses, may meet informally to resolve any issue or issues to the satisfaction of both parties prior to the mediation conference.

(2) In accordance with Section 300.506(b)(2) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a public agency may establish procedures to offer to parents and schools that choose not to use the mediation process, an opportunity to meet, at a time and location convenient to the parents, with a disinterested party as follows:

(A) Who is under contract with an appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity, or a parent training and information center or community parent resource center in the state established under Section 1471 or Section 1472 of Title 20 of the United States Code.

(B) Who would explain the benefits of, and encourage the use of, the mediation process to the parents.

(k) The procedures and rights contained in this section shall be included in the notice of parent rights attached to the assessment plan of the pupil pursuant to Section 56321.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 454, Sec. 28. Effective October 10, 2007.)

56500.4.
  

(a) Pursuant to Section 1415(b)(3) and (4) and (c)(1) of Title 20 of the United States Code, and in accordance with Section 300.503 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, prior written notice shall be given by the public agency to the parents or guardians of an individual with exceptional needs, or to the parents or guardians of a child upon initial referral for assessment, and a reasonable time before the public agency proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, assessment, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child. In accordance with Sections 300.304 and 300.503 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the public agency shall provide a description of any assessment procedures the agency proposes to conduct.

(b) The notice required under subdivision (a) shall, in accordance with Section 300.503(b) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, include all of the following:

(1) A description of the action proposed or refused by the public agency.

(2) An explanation of why the public agency proposes or refuses to take the action.

(3) A description of each assessment procedure, assessment, record, or report the public agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action.

(4) A statement that the parents of an individual with exceptional needs have protection under the procedural safeguards of this part and, if this notice is not an initial referral for assessment, the means by which a copy of a description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained.

(5) Sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this part.

(6) A description of other options that the individualized education program team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected.

(7) A description of other factors that are relevant to the proposal or refusal of the agency.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 454, Sec. 29. Effective October 10, 2007.)

56500.5.
  

As provided in Section 300.102(a)(3)(iii) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parents or guardians of an individual with exceptional needs shall be given reasonable written prior notice, in accordance with Section 56500.4, that their child will be graduating from high school with a regular high school diploma because graduation from high school with a regular diploma constitutes a change in placement.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 81. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56500.6.
  

Due process and state complaint procedures for children enrolled in private schools by their parents pursuant to Sections 56170 to 56174.5, inclusive, shall be in accordance with Section 300.140 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 82. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56501.
  

(a) The due process hearing procedures prescribed by this chapter extend to the parent or guardian, as defined in Section 56028, a pupil who has been emancipated, and a pupil who is a ward or dependent of the court or for whom no parent or guardian can be identified or located when the hearing officer determines that either the local educational agency has failed to appoint a surrogate parent as required by Section 7579.5 of the Government Code or the surrogate parent appointed by the local educational agency does not meet the criteria set forth in subdivision (f) of Section 7579.5 of the Government Code, and the public agency involved in any decisions regarding a pupil. The appointment of a surrogate parent after a hearing has been requested by the pupil shall not be cause for dismissal of the hearing request. The parent or guardian and the public agency involved may initiate the due process hearing procedures prescribed by this chapter under any of the following circumstances:

(1) There is a proposal to initiate or change the identification, assessment, or educational placement of the child or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.

(2) There is a refusal to initiate or change the identification, assessment, or educational placement of the child or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.

(3) The parent or guardian refuses to consent to an assessment of the child.

(4) There is a disagreement between a parent or guardian and a local educational agency regarding the availability of a program appropriate for the child, including the question of financial responsibility, as specified in Section 300.148 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(b) The due process hearing rights prescribed by this chapter include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

(1) The right to a mediation conference pursuant to Section 56500.3.

(2) The right to request a mediation conference at any point during the hearing process. The mediation process is not to be used to deny or delay a parent’s or guardian’s right to a due process hearing, or to deny any other rights afforded under this part, or under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.). Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 56500.3, attorneys and advocates are permitted to participate in mediation conferences scheduled after the filing of a request for due process hearing.

(3) The right to examine pupil records pursuant to Section 56504. This provision shall not be construed to abrogate the rights prescribed by Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 49060) of Part 27.

(4) The right to a fair and impartial administrative hearing at the state level, before a person knowledgeable in the laws governing special education and administrative hearings, under contract with the department, pursuant to Section 56505.

(c) In addition to the rights prescribed by subdivision (b), the parent or guardian has the following rights:

(1) The right to have the pupil who is the subject of the state hearing present at the hearing.

(2) The right to open the state hearing to the public.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 83. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56501.5.
  

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, prior to the opportunity for an impartial due process hearing under this chapter, the local educational agency shall convene a resolution meeting with the parents and the relevant member or members of the individualized education program team who have specific knowledge of the facts identified in the due process hearing request, in accordance with Section 1415(f)(1)(B) of Title 20 of the United States Code and Section 300.510 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The parent and the local educational agency shall determine the relevant members of the individualized education program team to attend the meeting.

(1) The meeting shall be convened within 15 days of receiving notice of the due process hearing request of the parent.

(2) The meeting shall include a representative of the local educational agency who has decisionmaking authority on behalf of the agency.

(3) The meeting shall not include an attorney of the local educational agency, unless the parent is accompanied by an attorney.

(4) The purpose of the meeting is for the parent of the child to discuss the due process hearing issue, and the facts that form the basis of the due process hearing request, so that the local educational agency has the opportunity to resolve the dispute that is the basis for the due process hearing request.

(b) The resolution meeting described in subdivision (a) need not be held if the parents and the local educational agency agree in writing to waive the meeting, or agree to use the mediation process as provided for in this chapter.

(c) If the local educational agency has not resolved the due process hearing issue to the satisfaction of the parents within 30 days of the receipt of the due process hearing request notice, the due process hearing may occur. Except as provided in subdivision (d), the timeline for issuing a final decision under paragraph (3) of subdivision (f) of Section 56505 begins at the expiration of this 30-day period.

(d) The 45-day timeline for the due process hearing cited in paragraph (3) of subdivision (f) of Section 56505 starts the day after one of the following events, provided the local educational agency also affords notice of these events to the agency or contractor providing due process hearings pursuant to Section 56504.5:

(1) Both parties agree in writing to waive the resolution meeting.

(2) After either the mediation or resolution meeting starts but before the end of the 30-day resolution period, the parties agree in writing that no agreement is possible.

(3) If both parties agree in writing to continue a mediation that started before the end of the 30-day resolution period to a date after the 30-day resolution period, but later, the parent or local educational agency withdraws from the mediation process.

(e) Except where the parties have jointly agreed to waive the resolution process or to use mediation, notwithstanding subdivision (c), the failure of the parent filing a due process hearing request to participate in the resolution meeting will delay the timelines for the resolution process and due process hearing until the meeting is held.

(1) If the local educational agency is unable to obtain the participation of the parent in the resolution meeting after reasonable efforts have been made and documented using the procedures in Section 300.322(d) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, such as detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls, copies of correspondence sent to the parent and any responses received, and detailed records of visits made to the home or place of employment of the parent, the local educational agency may, at the conclusion of the 30-day period, request that a hearing officer dismiss the due process hearing request of the parent.

(2) If the local educational agency fails to hold the resolution meeting specified in subdivision (a) within 15 days of receiving notice of a due process hearing request of a parent or fails to participate in the resolution meeting, the parent may seek the intervention of a hearing officer to begin the due process hearing timeline.

(f) In the case that a resolution is reached to resolve the due process hearing issue at a meeting described in subdivision (a), the parties shall execute a legally binding agreement that is both of the following:

(1) Signed by both the parent and a representative of the local educational agency who has the authority to bind the agency.

(2) Enforceable in a state court of competent jurisdiction or in a federal district court of the United States.

(g) If the parties execute an agreement pursuant to subdivision (d), a party may void the agreement within three business days of the execution of the agreement.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 454, Sec. 30. Effective October 10, 2007.)

56502.
  

(a) All requests for a due process hearing shall be filed with the Superintendent in accordance with Section 300.508(a) and (b) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(b) The Superintendent shall develop a model form to assist parents and guardians in filing a request for due process that is in accordance with Section 300.509 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(c) (1) The party, or the attorney representing the party, initiating a due process hearing by filing a written request with the Superintendent shall provide the other party to the hearing with a copy of the request at the same time as the request is filed with the Superintendent. The due process hearing request notice shall remain confidential. In accordance with Section 1415(b)(7)(A) of Title 20 of the United States Code, the request shall include the following:

(A) The name of the child, the address of the residence of the child, or available contact information in the case of a homeless child, and the name of the school the child is attending.

(B) In the case of a homeless child or youth within the meaning of paragraph (2) of Section 725 of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11434a(2)), available contact information for the child and the name of the school the child is attending.

(C) A description of the nature of the problem of the child relating to the proposed initiation or change, including facts relating to the problem.

(D) A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time.

(2) A party may not have a due process hearing until the party, or the attorney representing the party, files a request that meets the requirements listed in this subdivision.

(d) (1) The due process hearing request notice required by Section 1415(b)(7)(A) of Title 20 of the United States Code shall be deemed to be sufficient unless the party receiving the notice notifies the due process hearing officer and the other party in writing that the receiving party believes the due process hearing request notice has not met the notice requirements. The party providing a hearing officer notification shall provide the notification within 15 days of receiving the due process hearing request notice. Within five days of receipt of the notification, the hearing officer shall make a determination on the face of the notice of whether the notification meets the requirements of Section 1415(b)(7)(A) of Title 20 of the United States Code, and shall immediately notify the parties in writing of the determination.

(2) (A) The response to the due process hearing request notice shall be made within 10 days of receiving the request notice in accordance with Section 1415(c)(2)(B) of Title 20 of the United States Code.

(B) In accordance with Section 300.508(e)(1) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, if the local educational agency has not sent a prior written notice under Section 56500.4 and Section 300.503 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations to the parent regarding the subject matter contained in the due process hearing request of the parent, the response from the local educational agency to the parent shall include all of the following:

(i) An explanation of why the agency proposed or refused to take the action raised in the due process hearing request.

(ii) A description of other options that the individualized education program team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected.

(iii) A description of each assessment procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as the basis for the proposed or refused action.

(iv) A description of other factors that are relevant to the proposed or refused action of the agency.

(C) A response by a local educational agency under subparagraph (B) shall not be construed to preclude the local educational agency from asserting that the due process request of the parent was insufficient, where appropriate.

(D) Except as provided under subparagraph (B), the party receiving a due process hearing request notice, within 10 days of receiving the notice, shall send to the other party, in accordance with Section 300.508(f) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a response that specifically addresses the issues raised in the due process hearing request notice.

(e) A party may amend a due process hearing request notice only if the other party consents in writing to the amendment and is given the opportunity to resolve the hearing issue through a meeting held pursuant to Section 1415(f)(1)(B) of Title 20 of the United States Code, or the due process hearing officer grants permission, except that the hearing officer may only grant permission at any time not later than five days before a due process hearing occurs. The applicable timeline for a due process hearing under this chapter shall recommence at the time the party files an amended notice, including the timeline under Section 1415(f)(1)(B) of Title 20 of the United States Code.

(f) The Superintendent shall take steps to ensure that within 45 days after receipt of the written hearing request the hearing is immediately commenced and completed, including, any mediation requested at any point during the hearing process pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 56501, and a final administrative decision is rendered, unless a continuance has been granted pursuant to Section 56505.

(g) Notwithstanding any procedure set forth in this chapter, a public agency and a parent or guardian, if the party initiating the hearing so chooses, may meet informally to resolve an issue or issues relating to the identification, assessment, or education and placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child, to the satisfaction of both parties prior to the hearing. The informal meeting shall be conducted by the district superintendent, county superintendent, or director of the public agency or his or her designee. A designee appointed pursuant to this subdivision shall have the authority to resolve the issue or issues.

(h) Upon receipt by the Superintendent of a written request by the parent or guardian or public agency, the Superintendent or his or her designee or designees immediately shall notify, in writing, all parties of the request for the hearing and the scheduled date for the hearing. The notice shall advise all parties of all their rights relating to procedural safeguards. The Superintendent or his or her designee shall provide both parties with a list of persons and organizations within the geographical area that can provide free or reduced cost representation or other assistance in preparing for the due process hearing. This list shall include a brief description of the requirement to qualify for the services. The Superintendent or his or her designee shall have complete discretion in determining which individuals or groups shall be included on the list.

(i) In accordance with Section 1415(f)(3)(B) of Title 20 of the United States Code, the party requesting the due process hearing shall not be allowed to raise issues at the due process hearing that were not raised in the notice filed under this section, unless the other party agrees otherwise.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 454, Sec. 31. Effective October 10, 2007.)

56503.
  

Nothing in this chapter shall preclude the parties to a hearing from agreeing to use a mediation conference or resolving their dispute in an informal, nonadversarial manner, even though a request for a state level hearing has been filed or even if the hearing has commenced.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1992, Ch. 1360, Sec. 25. Effective January 1, 1993.)

56504.
  

The parent shall have the right and opportunity to examine all school records of his or her child and to receive copies pursuant to this section and to Section 49065 within five business days after the request is made by the parent, either orally or in writing. The public agency shall comply with a request for school records without unnecessary delay before any meeting regarding an individualized education program or any hearing pursuant to Section 300.121, 300.301, 300.304, or 300.507 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations or resolution session pursuant to Section 300.510 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations and in no case more than five business days after the request is made orally or in writing. The parent shall have the right to a response from the public agency to reasonable requests for explanations and interpretations of the records. If a school record includes information on more than one pupil, the parents of those pupils have the right to inspect and review only the information relating to their child or to be informed of that specific information. A public agency shall provide a parent, on request of the parent, a list of the types and locations of school records collected, maintained, or used by the agency. A public agency may charge no more than the actual cost of reproducing the records, but if this cost effectively prevents the parent from exercising the right to receive the copy or copies, the copy or copies shall be reproduced at no cost.

(Amended by Stats. 2008, Ch. 179, Sec. 68. Effective January 1, 2009.)

56504.5.
  

(a) The department shall enter into an interagency agreement with another state agency or contract with a nonprofit organization or entity to conduct mediation conferences and due process hearings in accordance with Sections 300.506 and 300.511 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(b) The agency or contractor shall provide hearings and mediations in a manner that is consistent with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, and any other applicable legal authorities.

(c) The Superintendent shall adopt regulations that establish standards for all of the following components of an interagency agreement or contract entered into pursuant to subdivision (a):

(1) The training and qualifications for mediators and hearing officers.

(2) The availability of translators and translated documents.

(3) Prevention of conflicts of interest for mediators and hearing officers.

(4) The supervision of mediators and hearing officers.

(5) Monitoring, tracking, and management of cases.

(6) The process for conducting mediations and due process hearings.

(7) Communication with parties to mediations and due process hearings.

(8) The establishment of a committee to advise the agency or contractor with regard to conducting mediations and due process hearings.

(9) The contents of a manual to describe the procedures of the mediation and due process hearing.

(d) (1) An agency or contractor shall collect and provide data in standardized formats, which allow the department to manage and report on all mediation and due process activities in the state. An agency or contractor shall propose the manner in which specific data and information will be collected and transmitted electronically and in writing to the department on a quarterly basis. The reports shall contain data to provide the state with information to comply with federal and state regulations for monitoring local programs. An agency or contractor shall identify applicable data to be collected, analyzed, and formatted including, but not limited to, caseloads, status of cases, and outcomes for mediations and due process hearings.

(2) The agency or contractor shall, on a quarterly basis, provide the department with information that includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:

(A) Formal complaints: (i) number of complaints; (ii) number of complaints with findings; (iii) number of complaints with no findings; (iv) number of complaints not investigated, withdrawn, or no jurisdiction; (v) number of complaints completed or addressed within timelines; and (vi) number of complaints pending.

(B) Mediations: (i) number of mediations not related to hearing requests; (ii) number of mediations related to hearing requests; (iii) number of mediation agreements not related to hearing requests; (iv) number of mediation agreements related to hearing requests; and (v) number of mediations pending.

(C) Due process hearings: (i) number of hearing requests; (ii) number of hearings held; (iii) number of decisions issued after timelines and extension expired; (iv) number of hearings pending; and (v) number of expedited hearings.

(3) The agency or contractor shall submit hard copies of hearing decision reports to the department and shall administer and upload all redacted reports on a quarterly basis to the hearing decision database of the department. The agency or contractor shall have the ability to provide the department with the costs of hearings and mediations on both an aggregate and individual basis.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 85. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56505.
  

(a) The state hearing shall be conducted in accordance with regulations adopted by the board.

(b) The hearing shall be held at a time and place reasonably convenient to the parent or guardian and the pupil.

(c) (1) The hearing shall be conducted by a person who, at a minimum, shall possess knowledge of, and the ability to understand, the provisions of this part and related state statutes and implementing regulations, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.), federal regulations pertaining to the act, and legal interpretations of this part and the federal law by federal and state courts, and who has satisfactorily completed training pursuant to this subdivision. The Superintendent shall establish standards for the training of hearing officers, the degree of specialization of the hearing officers, and the quality control mechanisms to be used to ensure that the hearings are fair and the decisions are accurate.

(2) The hearing officer shall possess the knowledge and ability to conduct hearings in accordance with appropriate, standard legal practice.

(3) The hearing officer shall possess the knowledge and ability to render and write decisions in accordance with appropriate, standard legal practice.

(4) A due process hearing shall not be conducted by an individual listed in Section 1415(f)(3)(A)(i) of Title 20 of the United States Code. Pursuant to Section 300.511(c)(2) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a person who is qualified to conduct a hearing is not an employee of the agency solely because he or she is paid by the agency to serve as a hearing officer. The hearing officer shall encourage the parties to a hearing to consider the option of mediation as an alternative to a hearing.

(d) Pursuant to Section 300.518(a) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, during the pendency of the hearing proceedings, including the actual state-level hearing, or judicial proceeding regarding a due process hearing, the pupil shall remain in his or her present placement, except as provided in Section 300.533 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, unless the public agency and the parent or guardian agree otherwise. A pupil applying for initial admission to a public school, with the consent of his or her parent or guardian, shall be placed in the public school program until all proceedings have been completed. As provided in Section 300.518(d) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, if the decision of a hearing officer in a due process hearing or a state review official in an administrative appeal agrees with the parent or guardian of the pupil that a change of placement is appropriate, that placement shall be treated as an agreement between the state or local educational agency and the parent or guardian. In accordance with Section 300.518(c) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, if a due process hearing request involves an application for initial services from a child who is transitioning from an early education program under Chapter 4.4 (commencing with Section 56425) to a special education program serving individuals with exceptional needs between the ages of three to five years, inclusive, under Chapter 4.45 (commencing with Section 56440), and is no longer eligible for early education services because the child has turned three years of age, the local educational agency is not required to provide early education services that the child had been receiving. If the child is found eligible for special education and related services for children age three years of age and older, and the parent or guardian consents to the initial provision of special education and related services under Section 300.300(b) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the local educational agency shall provide those special education and related services that are not in dispute between the parent or guardian and the local educational agency.

(e) A party to the hearing held pursuant to this section shall be afforded the following rights consistent with state and federal statutes and regulations:

(1) The right to be accompanied and advised by counsel and by individuals with special knowledge or training relating to the problems of individuals with exceptional needs.

(2) The right to present evidence, written arguments, and oral arguments.

(3) The right to confront, cross-examine, and compel the attendance of, witnesses.

(4) The right to a written, or, at the option of the parents or guardians, electronic verbatim record of the hearing.

(5) The right to written, or, at the option of the parent or guardian, electronic findings of fact and decisions. The record of the hearing and the findings of fact and decisions shall be provided at no cost to parents or guardians in accordance with Section 300.512(c)(3) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The findings and decisions shall be made available to the public after any personally identifiable information has been deleted consistent with the confidentiality requirements of Section 1417(c) of Title 20 of the United States Code and shall also be transmitted to the Advisory Commission on Special Education pursuant to Section 1415(h)(4) of Title 20 of the United States Code.

(6) The right to be informed by the other parties to the hearing, at least 10 days prior to the hearing, as to what those parties believe are the issues to be decided at the hearing and their proposed resolution of those issues. Upon the request of a parent who is not represented by an attorney, the agency responsible for conducting hearings shall provide a mediator to assist the parent in identifying the issues and the proposed resolution of the issues.

(7) The right to receive from other parties to the hearing, at least five business days prior to the hearing, a copy of all documents and a list of all witnesses and their general area of testimony that the parties intend to present at the hearing. Included in the material to be disclosed to all parties at least five business days prior to a hearing shall be all assessments completed by that date and recommendations based on the assessments that the parties intend to use at the hearing.

(8) The right, pursuant to Section 300.512(a)(3) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, to prohibit the introduction of any evidence at the hearing that has not been disclosed to that party at least five business days before the hearing.

(f) (1) In accordance with Section 1415(f)(3)(E) of Title 20 of the United States Code, the decision of a due process hearing officer shall be made on substantive grounds based on a determination of whether the child received a free appropriate public education.

(2) In matters alleging a procedural violation, a due process hearing officer may find that a child did not receive a free appropriate public education only if the procedural violation did any of the following:

(A) Impeded the right of the child to a free appropriate public education.

(B) Significantly impeded the opportunity of the parents to participate in the decisionmaking process regarding the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child of the parents.

(C) Caused a deprivation of educational benefits.

(3) The hearing conducted pursuant to this section shall be completed and a written, reasoned decision, including the reasons for a nonpublic, nonsectarian school placement, the provision of nonpublic, nonsectarian agency services, or the reimbursement for the placement or services, taking into account the requirements of subdivision (a) of Section 56365, shall be mailed to all parties to the hearing not later than 45 days after the expiration of the 30-day period pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 56501.5. Either party to the hearing may request the hearing officer to grant an extension. The extension shall be granted upon a showing of good cause. An extension shall extend the time for rendering a final administrative decision for a period only equal to the length of the extension.

(4) This subdivision does not preclude a due process hearing officer from ordering a local educational agency to comply with procedural requirements under this chapter.

(g) Subdivision (f) does not alter the burden of proof required in a due process hearing, or prevent a hearing officer from ordering a compensatory remedy for an individual with exceptional needs.

(h) The hearing conducted pursuant to this section shall be the final administrative determination and binding on all parties.

(i) In decisions relating to the placement of individuals with exceptional needs, the person conducting the state hearing shall consider cost, in addition to all other factors that are considered.

(j) In a hearing conducted pursuant to this section, the hearing officer shall not base a decision solely on nonsubstantive procedural errors, unless the hearing officer finds that the nonsubstantive procedural errors resulted in the loss of an educational opportunity to the pupil or interfered with the opportunity of the parent or guardian of the pupil to participate in the formulation process of the individualized education program.

(k) This chapter does not preclude a party aggrieved by the findings and decisions in a hearing under this section from exercising the right to appeal the decision to a state court of competent jurisdiction. An aggrieved party also may exercise the right to bring a civil action in a district court of the United States without regard to the amount in controversy, pursuant to Section 300.516 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. An appeal shall be made within 90 days of receipt of the hearing decision. During the pendency of an administrative or judicial proceeding conducted pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 56500), the child involved in the hearing shall remain in his or her present educational placement, unless the public agency and the parent or guardian of the child agree otherwise. An action brought under this subdivision shall adhere to Section 300.516(c) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(l) A request for a due process hearing arising under subdivision (a) of Section 56501 shall be filed within two years from the date the party initiating the request knew or had reason to know of the facts underlying the basis for the request. In accordance with Section 1415(f)(3)(D) of Title 20 of the United States Code, the time period specified in this subdivision does not apply to a parent if the parent was prevented from requesting the due process hearing due to either of the following:

(1) Specific misrepresentations by the local educational agency that it had solved the problem forming the basis of the due process hearing request.

(2) The withholding of information by the local educational agency from the parent that was required under this part to be provided to the parent.

(m) Pursuant to Section 300.511(c) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, each public agency shall keep a list of the persons who serve as due process hearing officers, in accordance with Section 56504.5, and the list shall include a statement of the qualifications of each of those persons. The list of hearing officers shall be provided to the public agencies by the organization or entity under contract with the department to conduct due process hearings.

(n) A party who filed for a due process hearing prior to the effective date of this section is not bound by the two-year statute of limitations time period in subdivision (l) if the party filed a request within the three-year statute of limitations provision pursuant to subdivision (l) as it read prior to October 9, 2006.

(o) This section shall become operative October 9, 2006.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 454, Sec. 32. Effective October 10, 2007.)

56505.1.
  

The hearing officer may do any of the following during the hearing:

(a) Question a witness on the record prior to any of the parties doing so.

(b) With the consent of both parties to the hearing, request that conflicting experts discuss an issue or issues with each other while on the record.

(c) Visit the proposed placement site or sites when the physical attributes of the site or sites are at issue.

(d) Call a witness to testify at the hearing if all parties to the hearing consent to the witness giving testimony or the hearing is continued for at least five days after the witness is identified and before the witness testifies.

(e) Order that an impartial assessment, including an independent educational assessment, of the pupil be conducted for purposes of the hearing and continue the hearing until the assessment has been completed. The cost of any assessment ordered under this subdivision shall be at public expense pursuant to subsection (d) of Section 300.502 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations and included in the contract between the department and the organization or entity conducting the hearing.

(f) Bar introduction of any documents or the testimony of any witnesses not disclosed to the hearing officer at least five business days prior to the hearing and bar introduction of any documents or the testimony of any witnesses at the hearing without the consent of the other party not disclosed to the parties at least five business days prior to the hearing pursuant to paragraph (7) of subdivision (e) of Section 56505.

(g) In decisions relating to the provision of related services by other public agencies, the hearing officer may call as witnesses independent medical specialists qualified to present evidence in the area of the pupil’s medical disability. The cost for any witness called to testify under this subdivision shall be included in the contract between the department and the organization or entity conducting the hearing.

(h) Set a reasonable limit on the length of the hearing after consideration of all of the following:

(1) The issues to be heard.

(2) The complexity of the facts to be proven.

(3) The ability of the parties and their representatives, if any, to present their respective cases.

(4) The estimate of the parties as to the time needed to present their respective cases.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 161, Sec. 23. Effective July 16, 2004.)

56505.2.
  

(a) A hearing officer may not render a decision that results in the placement of an individual with exceptional needs in a nonpublic, nonsectarian school, or that results in a service for an individual with exceptional needs provided by a nonpublic, nonsectarian agency, if the school or agency has not been certified pursuant to Section 56366.1.

(b) A hearing officer shall consider Sections 56365, 56366, and 56366.1 during a due process hearing concerning an issue of placement of an individual with exceptional needs in a nonpublic, nonsectarian school, or services for an individual with exceptional needs provided by a nonpublic, nonsectarian agency.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 408, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2005.)

56506.
  

In addition to the due process hearing rights enumerated in subdivision (b) of Section 56501, the following due process rights extend to the pupil and the parent:

(a) Written notice to the parent of his or her rights in language easily understood by the general public and in the native language of the parent, as defined in Section 300.29 of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or other mode of communication used by the parent, unless to do so is clearly not feasible. The written notice of rights shall include, but not be limited to, those prescribed by Section 56341.

(b) The right to initiate a referral of a child for special education services pursuant to Section 56303.

(c) The right to obtain an independent educational assessment pursuant to subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 56329.

(d) The right to participate in the development of the individualized education program and to be informed of the availability under state and federal law of free appropriate public education and of all available alternative programs, both public and nonpublic.

(e) Written parental consent pursuant to Section 56321 shall be obtained before any assessment of the pupil is conducted, unless the public agency prevails in a due process hearing relating to the assessment. In accordance with Section 300.300(c)(2) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, informed parental consent need not be obtained in the case of a reassessment of the pupil if the local educational agency can demonstrate that it has taken reasonable measures to obtain consent and the pupil’s parent has failed to respond.

(f) Written parental consent pursuant to Section 56346 shall be obtained before the pupil is placed in a special education program.

(g) A parent of an individual with exceptional needs may elect to receive notices required under this chapter by an electronic mail communication, if the local educational agency makes that option available, in accordance with Section 1415(n) of Title 20 of the United States Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 86. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56507.
  

(a) If either party to a due process hearing intends to be represented by an attorney in the state hearing, notice of that intent shall be given to the other party at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The failure to provide that notice shall constitute good cause for a continuance.

(b) (1) An award of reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing parent, guardian, or pupil, as the case may be, may only be made either with the agreement of the parties following the conclusion of the administrative hearing process or by a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to Section 1415(i)(3) of Title 20 of the United States Code.

(2) In accordance with Section 1415(i)(3) of Title 20 of the United States Code, the court, in its discretion, may award reasonable attorney’s fees as part of the costs to a prevailing party who is a state educational agency or local educational agency in the following circumstances:

(A) Against the attorney of a parent who files a due process hearing request or subsequent cause of action that is frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation, or against the attorney of a parent who continued to litigate after the litigation clearly became frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.

(B) Against the attorney of a parent, or against the parent, if the parent’s due process hearing request or subsequent cause of action was presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, to cause unnecessary delay, or to needlessly increase the cost of litigation.

(c) Public agencies shall not use federal funds distributed under Part B of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.), or other federal special education funds, for the agency’s own legal counsel or other advocacy costs, that may include, but are not limited to, a private attorney or employee of an attorney, legal paraprofessional, or other paid advocate, related to a due process hearing or the appeal of a hearing decision to the courts. Funds shall not be used to reimburse parents who prevail and are awarded attorney’s fees, pursuant to subdivision (b), as part of the judgment. Nothing in this subdivision shall preclude public agencies from using these funds for attorney services related to the establishment of policy and programs, or responsibilities, under Part B of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.) and the program administration of these programs. This subdivision does not apply to attorneys and others hired under contract to conduct administrative hearings pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 56505.

(d) The hearing decision shall indicate the extent to which each party has prevailed on each issue heard and decided, including issues involving other public agencies named as parties to the hearing.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 87. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56508.
  

It is the intent of the Legislature that the department develop training materials that can be used locally by parents, public agencies, and others and conduct workshops on alternative resolutions for resolving differences in a nonadversarial atmosphere with the mutual goal of providing a free appropriate public education for children and youth with disabilities.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 56, Sec. 88. Effective January 1, 2008.)

56509.
  

This chapter, in accordance with subsection (o) of Section 1415 of Title 20 of the United States Code, does not preclude a parent from filing a separate due process hearing request on an issue separate from a due process hearing request already filed.

(Added by Stats. 2005, Ch. 653, Sec. 46. Effective October 7, 2005.)

EDCEducation Code - EDC