Special Education Dispute Resolution

LINK: Special Education Tip of the Week (http://www.azed.gov/special-education/dispute/tip-of-the-week/)The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that States make available formal processes for families of children with disabilities age 3 through 21 and public schools to resolve special education-related disputes. Specifically, the Arizona Department of Education is required to offer mediation (34 C.F.R. § 300.506), a due process hearing system (§ 300.507), and a state administrative complaint system through which the Department can investigate alleged violations of the IDEA (§§ 300.151 through 153).

NOW AVAILABLE —  Dispute Resolution Listserv — If you would like to sign-up for the the Dispute Resolution Listserv, please add your e-mail address through this link.  Once registered, you will receive information on upcoming events, trainings, and hot topics in dispute resolution.

Resolution at the Local Level

Special education disputes are best resolved at the earliest stages by those parties most involved in a child’s education – namely the child’s parents and school staff members of the IEP team. Parents and school staff are encouraged to communicate and work together to reach an agreement that is in the best interest of the child. Parents may also request in writing that the school reconvene the IEP team to discuss questions or concerns.

Each district or charter school also has a special education director or coordinator that parents can contact if problems still exist. The special education director can often assist the IEP team in finding a mutual agreement or resolution. To find the contact information for the special education director or coordinator for each school district or charter school, visit the ADE Public School Search and type the name of the school in the search bar on the left side of the screen.

When a resolution cannot be reached at the local level, the Arizona Department of Education offers several resolution options.

Options for Addressing Concerns About Special Education

  • Early Resolution – Provides technical assistance to parents and schools seeking early resolution of complaints, in addition to providing guidance on the formal dispute resolution options available under the IDEA.
  • Mediation - An informal, voluntary process during which an impartial mediator helps parents and schools experiencing conflict reach a suitable agreement about a student’s special education program. Mediation is a problem-solving process rather than an adversarial process that allows the parties to communicate directly with each other as they work toward a mutually agreeable solution.
  • Due Process Hearing System – The most formal of the dispute resolution options, a due process hearing may be used to resolve any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, placement of a child, or the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the child.
  • State Administrative Complaint System – Part of the State’s general supervisory authority, this is the process through which members of the community can alert the state education agency (SEA) of potential noncompliance with the IDEA in the public schools.

Training Resources

  • Dispute Resolution offers recorded webinars.  Please visit the Training Resources page.
  • The Facilitated IEP page features links to upcoming trainings and resources for the IEP team.  Please visit the Facilitated IEP page.

Upcoming Training and Events

Registration is now open for Facilitated IEP trainings.
These trainings listed in the box below will be held at seven different locations across Arizona in 2014. Each two-day training runs from 9 – 4 and includes breakfast and lunch for a $75 registration fee. Please register through ADE’s Calendar of Events.

  • August 19th and 20th Mohave County – Kingman Unified
  • September 4th and 5th Pinal County – Florence Unified
  • September 9th and 10th Yuma County – Crane Elementary
  • October 15th and 16th Yavapai County – Yavapai County Educational Service Agency
  • October 28th and 29th Apache County – Chinle Unified
  • November 4th and 5th Navajo County – Snowflake Unified
  • December 2nd and 3rd Cochise County – Sierra Vista – Apache Middle School

Helpful Resources and Links

Contact Us

Arizona Department of Education, Dispute Resolution
1535 W. Jefferson St., Bin #62
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Tel: (602) 542-3084
Fax: (602) 364-0641
For questions please call the Dispute Resolution Coordinator at the number listed above.


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