20 U.S.C. § 1415 - Procedural safeguards
|Cite as:||20 U.S.C. § 1415|
|Currency:||Current through P.L. 116-182 (10/21/2020)|
(a) Establishment of procedures
Any State educational agency, State agency, or local educational agency that receives assistance under this subchapter shall establish and maintain procedures in accordance with this section to ensure that children with disabilities and their parents are guaranteed procedural safeguards with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education by such agencies.
(b) Types of procedures
The procedures required by this section shall include the following:
(1) An opportunity for the parents of a child with a disability to examine all records relating to such child and to participate in meetings with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child, and the provision of a free appropriate public education to such child, and to obtain an independent educational evaluation of the child.
(A) Procedures to protect the rights of the child whenever the parents of the child are not known, the agency cannot, after reasonable efforts, locate the parents, or the child is a ward of the State, including the assignment of an individual to act as a surrogate for the parents, which surrogate shall not be an employee of the State educational agency, the local educational agency, or any other agency that is involved in the education or care of the child. In the case of-
(i) a child who is a ward of the State, such surrogate may alternatively be appointed by the judge overseeing the child's care provided that the surrogate meets the requirements of this paragraph; and
(ii) an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section 11434a(6) of title 42, the local educational agency shall appoint a surrogate in accordance with this paragraph.
(B) The State shall make reasonable efforts to ensure the assignment of a surrogate not more than 30 days after there is a determination by the agency that the child needs a surrogate.
(3) Written prior notice to the parents of the child, in accordance with subsection (c)(1), whenever the local educational agency-
(A) proposes to initiate or change; or
(B) refuses to initiate or change,
the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.
(4) Procedures designed to ensure that the notice required by paragraph (3) is in the native language of the parents, unless it clearly is not feasible to do so.
(5) An opportunity for mediation, in accordance with subsection (e).
(6) An opportunity for any party to present a complaint-
(A) with respect to any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to such child; and
(B) which sets forth an alleged violation that occurred not more than 2 years before the date the parent or public agency knew or should have known about the alleged action that forms the basis of the complaint, or, if the State has an explicit time limitation for presenting such a complaint under this subchapter, in such time as the State law allows, except that the exceptions to the timeline described in subsection (f)(3)(D) shall apply to the timeline described in this subparagraph.
(A) Procedures that require either party, or the attorney representing a party, to provide due process complaint notice in accordance with subsection (c)(2) (which shall remain confidential)-
(i) to the other party, in the complaint filed under paragraph (6), and forward a copy of such notice to the State educational agency; and
(ii) that shall include-
(I) 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;
(II) in the case of a homeless child or youth (within the meaning of section 11434a(2) of title 42), available contact information for the child and the name of the school the child is attending;
(III) a description of the nature of the problem of the child relating to such proposed initiation or change, including facts relating to such problem; and
(IV) a proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time.
(B) A requirement that a party may not have a due process hearing until the party, or the attorney representing the party, files a notice that meets the requirements of subparagraph (A)(ii).
(8) Procedures that require the State educational agency to develop a model form to assist parents in filing a complaint and due process complaint notice in accordance with paragraphs (6) and (7), respectively.
(c) Notification requirements
(1) Content of prior written notice
The notice required by subsection (b)(3) shall include-
(A) a description of the action proposed or refused by the agency;
(B) an explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to take the action and a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action;
(C) a statement that the parents of a child with a disability have protection under the procedural safeguards of this subchapter and, if this notice is not an initial referral for evaluation, the means by which a copy of a description of the procedural safeguards can be obtained;
(D) sources for parents to contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of this subchapter;
(E) a description of other options considered by the IEP Team and the reason why those options were rejected; and
(F) a description of the factors that are relevant to the agency's proposal or refusal.
(2) Due process complaint notice
The due process complaint notice required under subsection (b)(7)(A) shall be deemed to be sufficient unless the party receiving the notice notifies the hearing officer and the other party in writing that the receiving party believes the notice has not met the requirements of subsection (b)(7)(A).
(B) Response to complaint
(i) Local educational agency response
(I) In general
If the local educational agency has not sent a prior written notice to the parent regarding the subject matter contained in the parent's due process complaint notice, such local educational agency shall, within 10 days of receiving the complaint, send to the parent a response that shall include-
(aa) an explanation of why the agency proposed or refused to take the action raised in the complaint;
(bb) a description of other options that the IEP Team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected;
(cc) a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the agency used as the basis for the proposed or refused action; and
(dd) a description of the factors that are relevant to the agency's proposal or refusal.
A response filed by a local educational agency pursuant to subclause (I) shall not be construed to preclude such local educational agency from asserting that the parent's due process complaint notice was insufficient where appropriate.
(ii) Other party response
Except as provided in clause (i), the non-complaining party shall, within 10 days of receiving the complaint, send to the complaint a response that specifically addresses the issues raised in the complaint.
The party providing a hearing officer notification under subparagraph (A) shall provide the notification within 15 days of receiving the complaint.
Within 5 days of receipt of the notification provided under subparagraph (C), the hearing officer shall make a determination on the face of the notice of whether the notification meets the requirements of subsection (b)(7)(A), and shall immediately notify the parties in writing of such determination.
(E) Amended complaint notice
(i) In general
A party may amend its due process complaint notice only if-
(I) the other party consents in writing to such amendment and is given the opportunity to resolve the complaint through a meeting held pursuant to subsection (f)(1)(B); or
(II) the hearing officer grants permission, except that the hearing officer may only grant such permission at any time not later than 5 days before a due process hearing occurs.
(ii) Applicable timeline
The applicable timeline for a due process hearing under this subchapter shall recommence at the time the party files an amended notice, including the timeline under subsection (f)(1)(B).
(d) Procedural safeguards notice
(1) In general
(A) Copy to parents
A copy of the procedural safeguards available to the parents of a child with a disability shall be given to the parents only 1 time a year, except that a copy also shall be given to the parents-
(i) upon initial referral or parental request for evaluation;
(ii) upon the first occurrence of the filing of a complaint under subsection (b)(6); and
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