Friday, November 4, 2011
Big News from OSEP on Resolution Session
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As we mentioned in previous posts, OSEP, a division on the U S Department of Education issued a big announcement at the CADRE conference. In the past OSEP had taken the position that local education agencies (school districts, some charter schools, etc) had to convene a resolution meeting within fifteen days of the filing of a due process complaint in every case even where the parent could not attend. Also State Education Agencies were being required to ding LEAs with findings of non-compliance whenever they did not hold such a resolution meeting.
At the big CADRE Symposium in Eugene, Oregon last week, OSEP announced a change in this policy. The new interpretation is as follows:
Although the general rule is that the LEA must convene a resolution meeting within fifteen days of the filing of a complaint by a parent, an LEA does not need to convene a resolution meeting within fifteen days of the filing where the parent says that they cannot attend the meeting. It is unreasonable to require an LEA to convene a re4solution meeting without the parent being present. The LEA must continue to make reasonable efforts throughout the thirty day resolution period to schedule a resolution meeting and the LEA must document its offers of multiple dates and times and the parents unavailability (including detailed records of telephone conversations, copies of written correspondence, and/or visits to the parents home or place of employment.)
OSEP made it clear that the general rule is that the resolution meeting will be held by the LEA within fifteen days of the filing of a due process complaint by a parent and that the situation described above is the exception. The reason for the change of interpretation is that it is that the purpose of the resolution meeting is to resolve the dispute and it is not possible to resolve the dispute without the parent present. Accordingly, it is not reasonable to require a resolution meeting when the parent cannot attend.
The formal OSEP interpretation will be included in an official Question & Answer document to be issued in the future. I received an oral go-ahead to make this information public at the CADRE conference and I double-checked the information stated above in a telephone call this week.