• Mediation, Due Process Procedures and California Department of Education (CDE) Special Education Complaints

    Concerns and issues parents have about their child's educational program can usually be taken care of by talking with the special education teacher, case manager, principal or by reconvening an IEP meeting. If these remedies have not resulted in the outcomes desired, parents are encouraged to contact the district special education coordinator and/or the Fresno County SELPA. In situations where parents have not been able to obtain an acceptable outcome, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation and/or a due process hearing are available.

    ADR is a process in which a third party, ideally neutral, assists two parties in reaching an amicable resolution through the use of various techniques. ADR describes a variety of approaches to resolve conflict which avoid the cost, delay and unpredictability of the traditional judicial processes. ADR is usually conducted at a local level through a facilitated IEP process or mediation.

    Mediation is a managed process during which the parties discuss their dispute in an attempt to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. The manager of the process is called the "mediator." The mediator is a neutral participant, skilled in methods of facilitating effective communication between the parties. In mediation, it is the parties themselves that determine if a resolution is reached, and if so, the terms of the agreement. Meditations can take place at a local level or through a state mediator.

    Due Process Hearing is the next step if ADR or Mediation is unable to resolve the disagreement. Parents may request a due process hearing regarding their child's special education identification, assessment, educational placement or FAPE. Due process hearing procedures include the right to a mediation conference, the right to examine student records and the right to a fair and impartial administrative hearing at the state level.

    To file for mediation and/or due process hearing contact the Office of Administrative Hearings.

    The California Department of Education special education division investigates allegation of noncompliance with special education laws, federal or state. CDE ensures public agencies meet the educational needs of students with disabilities. To file a complaint with the CDE contact, California Department of Education, Special Education Division, Procedural Safeguards Referral Service (PSRS).