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 Dispute Resolution

There are several ways to come to a resolution in a dispute with a system over the rights and services afforded to students with disabilities and their families. The quickest and most efficient method is to contact the special education administration in the system. The special education director can often assist a family to work out the differences with minimal time and conflict. When a resolution cannot be worked out locally, there are processes guaranteed to families of students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These include (1) formal complaints, (2) mediation and/or (3) a due process hearing.

​Dispute Resolution Comparison Chart​

QuestionComplaintMediationDue Process HearingResolution Session
(only upon request for a due process hearing)
Who can initiate the process?Any 
individual or organization.
Parent or system, but must be voluntary for both partiesParent or systemSystem schedules the resolution session upon receipt of a due process hearing request unless the parties agree to waive or use mediation
What is the time limit for filing?One year from the date of the alleged violationNone specifiedTwo years of when the party knew or should have known of the problem with limited exceptionsTriggered by a parent's due process hearing request
What issues can be resolved?Alleged violations of federal regulations and Georgia Department of Education Rules For Special EducationAny matter under the IDEA federal regulations and Georgia Department of Education Rules For Special Education including matters arising prior to the filing of a due process complaint (there are some exceptions)Any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement or provision of a free appropriate public education (there are some exceptions)Same issues as the due process hearing request
What is the timeline for resolving the issues?Sixty days from receipt of the complaint unless extended for unusual circumstancesNone specified45 days from the end of the resolution session unless specific extensions to the timeline are grantedSystem must convene a resolution session within 15 days of receipt of the due process hearing request unless both parties agree in writing to waive the session or agree to use mediation. The resolution period lasts for not more than 30 days.
Who resolves the issues?Georgia Department of Education/Division for Special Education ServicesParent and system with a mediator. Both parties must agree to the solution in writing Decisions are legally bindingAdministrative Law JudgeParent and the system. Both parties must agree to the solution in writing. Decisions are legally binding

Dispute Resolution Process Comparison  Charts

See Also