What to do if you disagree with the School.


Top of Page

What is Due Process?

Due Process is one of the most basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.   To make sure you and your child’s rights are protected, you must have the ability to have all decisions and actions of the school board or NYC questioned and explained, and if necessary, reviewed by an impartial hearing officer.  

Top of Page

What rights do we have?

Your child has the right to receive a free appropriate education, not the best possible education, but an appropriate education.   You have the right to be involved and informed in every decision and action regarding your child and to agree and disagree with the school board and city.

Please see the VESID website for a more detailed explanation of your rights.

Top of Page

What happens if they won't do what they should for your child?

If you think that the school board or city is not doing the right thing for your child or if you disagree with what they are doing, you have the right to object and follow a process to get it changed.   The process is generally:
Top of Page

What is a Resolution Meeting?

When you file for an Impartial Hearing you are required to participate in a Resolution Meeting.   The meeting is usually between just you (the parent) and the school board.   You can insist that your attorney be present in which case the school board will likely have their attorney present as well.   The Resolution Metting is a last attempt to try and “work it out” before going through with a full hearing.   In New York State the resolution meeting resolves the issue 20% of the time.

Top of Page

What is Mediation?

If your differences are not resolved at the Resolution Meeting, you have the option of attending a Mediation.   Mediation is not required, it is up to you.   A Mediator, knowledgable in special education, will act as an impartial third party to try to get you and the school board to agree on what is best for your child.   The Mediator will issue a report of the mediation, but neither you nor the school board have to accept the recommendations of the Mediator.   If your case goes to an Impartial Hearing, the mediator's report will not be used at the hearing.

Top of Page

Is the decision Final?

New York State is a two-tier state for Impartial Hearings.   While getting a favorable ruling at an Impartial Hearing is generally the end of a case, either party always has the right to have that decision reviewed by the State Review Officer (SRO).   Although recently there has been a lot of attention suggesting that the SRO is biased in the school board's favor, a ruling in your favor at the Impartial Hearing will usually be upheld by the State Review Officer.

Once all of the above steps have been completed, you can then sue the school board in court if you disagree with the final decision.   This is called an Article 78 proceeding in which you are asking a New York State Supreme Court Judge to overule the administrative decisions from the above steps.   After the Supreme Court Judge makes his/her decision, you or the school board may be able to appeal the decision through the appeals courts.   That would include the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court of the State of New York.   If you bring the lawsuit in Federal Court instead of New York State Court, it would be brought in the Southern District of New York and appeals, if any, would go to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Top of Page

What are the key deadlines?

Some of the most important dealines are listed below.   There are many other deadlines, so please consult an Attorney if you are not sure.   Missing a deadline could negate your right to protect your child's rights.