Your Child’s Special
Updated June 2004
The University of the State of New York
The State Education Department
P-12: Office of Special Education
Albany, NY 12234
Steps to Resolving Concerns
No one knows more about your child than you do. By working together, you and
the staff of the school can help your child have a successful school year.
If you become concerned about your child’s educational programs or special
education services, contact your child’s teacher immediately and share
information about your concerns. Informal meetings and phone conferences help
you build a partnership with the teacher and school. You may also ask for a
meeting with school administrators or the Committee on Preschool Special
Education (CPSE) or Committee on Special Education (CSE) to discuss your
concerns about your child's education.
ü To prepare for the meeting or phone
conference, make a list of your questions, concerns, ideas and information
about your child. Ask your child if there is anything that he or she would
like you to share. You may also have your child attend the meeting.
ü During the meeting, discuss your questions,
concerns, ideas and information, take notes and ask to see examples of your
child's work, for specific examples of classroom behavior, social
interactions and ways to help
your child at home. If you do not understand something, ask for an
explanation. Try to arrive at a mutually agreed-upon solution to any
problems or concerns. Keep detailed notes in a journal or log of who and
when you talked to someone and of any timetable and action agreed to,
including follow-up meetings and/or conversations.
ü After the meeting, talk with your child
about the good things that were discussed, the problems that need to be
worked on and the steps that will be taken to help your child. Keep
communicating and working
with your child’s teacher and if necessary, ask for a follow-up meeting or
After talking to you child's teacher, the CSE/CPSE and your school
administrator, if you have questions or feel your concerns have not been addressed, you may
want to contact your VESID Regional Associate from the State Education
Department for assistance. Phone numbers are listed on the back page of this
brochure. You also have due process rights to mediation and/or an impartial
hearing to resolve issues or conflicts. For more information, go to Help for
Parents at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed .
What is Special
If you continue to have difficulty resolving issues regarding your child’s
special education program you can make use of mediation. MEDIATION is a way
to resolve a disagreement with the recommendations of the CPSE or CSE
regarding your child by working together to reach a mutual agreement. You
must request mediation in writing to your local board of education or CSE/CPSE.
There is a form available at your local school
district to help you request mediation. Of the
339 mediations conducted in 2002-03, 98 percent resulted in agreement being
reached between the parent and school district. At any time during mediation
either party may also request an impartial hearing.
ü voluntary. You
represent you and your child in the discussions.
ü conducted by
qualified, impartial mediators trained in special education laws and
ü arranged by
staff at the Community Dispute Resolution Center, not the school.
ü scheduled as
quickly as possible.
ü held in a neutral site good
for you and the school district.
ü free to you and the school
ü a way to
develop an agreement in a cooperative and timely manner that must be
followed by you and the school district and, when necessary, amends the IEP.
Only the written mediation agreement may be used as evidence at a hearing.
Mediation helps you:
ü collaboratively work with a
mediator to resolve a disagreement with the school district.
ü reach a more complete
understanding of each other’s concerns.
Any agreement reached in mediation amends the
IEP and is binding upon the parties. The IEP must be immediately amended to
be consistent with the mediation agreement.
ü Any issues not resolved
during mediation can be discussed further at a CPSE or CSE meeting
or brought to an impartial hearing.
ü Mediation does not in any
way effect (deny or delay) your other rights to due process.
What parents have said about mediation:
It made a clear difference toward communication
between the parents and the school district.
ü I’m very happy with the
result of this meeting. I hope that the decision will be the best for my
ü I was informed of certain
valuable information that previously was unknown to me.
ü It was very helpful in
getting assistance and our voices heard.
ü Mediation was very helpful.
I will always be grateful for this service.
ü I have been in advocacy for
10 years and I found this process very successful, pleasant and impartial.
and school districts may agree on a solution
AT ANY TIME..even after mediation or an impartial hearing has begun.
What is an Impartial
An IMPARTIAL HEARING is a formal process to resolve a serious dispute
between the school district and the family. The dispute may concern a
recommendation of the CSE or CPSE regarding the identification, evaluation,
placement or provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for
your child. Hearings are conducted by Impartial Hearing Officers (IHO)
certified by the Commissioner of Education and regularly trained in special
education law and regulations. A decision made by an IHO regarding the
dispute is binding for all involved.
Beginning the Impartial Hearing Process:
ü You must request an
impartial hearing in writing to your local board of education. There is a
form available from your local school district.
ü The Board of Education must
begin the rotational process to select an IHO within two days of receipt of
your written request for an impartial hearing. The IHO must be available to start the hearing
within 14 calendar days in order to accept appointment to serve. An IHO is
immediately appointed by the board after the rotational selection process.
ü A hearing or prehearing
conference must be scheduled within 14 days of the IHO's appointment.
ü You and the school district
may be represented by individuals with special knowledge or training or an
ü The school district must
inform you of any free or low-cost legal or other services in your area.
ü There is no cost to you for
the impartial hearing, however, you may have to pay your own attorney’s
ü Hearings are held at a time
and location that is reasonably convenient to you.
ü The hearing is closed to the
public, unless you request an open hearing. You may have your child attend.
ü At least five business days
before the hearing, each party (you and the school district) must
disclose to the other party evidence, evaluations and recommendations that
will be introduced at the hearing.
The Hearing is Conducted:
ü The IHO presides at the
hearing and provides all parties an opportunity to present witnesses and
testimony. A tape recorder or a stenographer is used to take word-for-word
notes of the hearing.
ü Each party has up to one day
to present its case unless the IHO decides more time is needed.
ü A hearing officer must
provide written findings of fact and decision within:
State Level Appeal of a
Hearing Officer’s Decision
You or the school district may file an appeal to the State Review
Officer (SRO) to review a decision
of an impartial hearing officer. You can find more information on the
website of the Office of State Review at
How to get more information
For more information or assistance, contact your Regional Associate of the
Office of Special Education at:
Western Region: (585) 344-2002 ext 420
Central Region: (315) 476-5081
Hudson Valley Region: (914) 245-0010
Eastern Region: (518) 486-6366
Long Island Region: (631) 884-8530
New York City Region: (718) 722-4544
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The State Education Department does not discriminate on the
basis of age, color, religion, creed, disability, marital status, veteran
status, national origin, race, gender predisposition or carrier status, or
sexual orientation in its educational programs, services and activities.
Portions of this publication can be made available in a variety of formats,
including braille, large print or audio tape, upon request. Inquiries concerning
this policy of nondiscrimination should be directed to the Department’s Office
of Diversity, Ethics, and Access, Room 530 EB, Albany, NY 12234.