Special Education Dispute Resolution

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires States to make available formal processes for public schools and families of children with disabilities age 3 through 21 to resolve disputes involving special education. The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) offers mediation (34 C.F.R. § 300.506), a due process hearing system (§ 300.507), and a state administrative complaint system through which ADE can investigate alleged violations of the IDEA (§§ 300.151 through 153).

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Resolution at the Local Level

Special education disputes are best resolved at the earliest stages by 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 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, ADE offers several resolution options discussed below.

Options for Addressing Concerns About Special Education

  • Facilitated IEP (FIEP). The Arizona FIEP program’s vision is to build capacity among educators and families to ensure that collaborative, student-focused IEP teams are equipped to make sound decisions in the development of IEPs that offer children with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
  • 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 – As one of the IDEA’s procedural safeguards, mediation is 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 – As one of the IDEA’s procedural safeguards, due process is 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.

Contact Us

Arizona Department of Education, Dispute Resolution
Kacey Gregson, Director of Dispute Resolution
1535 W. Jefferson St., Bin #62
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Tel: (602) 542-3084
Fax: (602) 364-0641
For questions please e-mail Julie Albertson, the Dispute Resolution Coordinator, or telephone the number listed above.

For additional information regarding special education, visit the ESS homepage or find assistance with a special education matter at ESS Request Assistance.

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