IDEA Due Process Hearing

Pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and implementing Montana law, parents or public agencies providing education to children with disabilities may file a request for a due process hearing with the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction regarding disagreements related to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student with a disability, or the provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  Public agencies include the Local Educational Agency (LEA), also known as a school district, or other public agencies that have responsibility for providing education to students with disabilities.

A due process hearing is a formal legal process.  Upon the filing of the request for a due process hearing, the OPI will provide the parties with a list of three potential impartial hearing officers and a summary of their qualifications.  The parties will rank the order of the individuals based on preference and the Superintendent of Public Instruction will appoint the hearing officer from the names ranked by the parties.

When a parent files a due process complaint, a resolution meeting must be convened by the LEA within 15 days of the request for due process.  The resolution meeting provides the opportunity to try and resolve the dispute before the hearing.  If the LEA has not resolved the complaint within 30 days of the request for a due process hearing, this marks the end of the resolution period.  The resolution meeting may be waived, if both parties agree in writing or the parties agree to use the mediation process.  

The hearing officer conducts the hearing.  The parties have the right to the present evidence and confront and cross examine witnesses.  The hearing officer is to render, in writing, findings of facts and conclusions of law regarding the matters at issue within 45 days after the end of the resolution period, unless there has been a specific extension of time.  The hearing officer’s decision is legally binding on the parties, unless the decision is appealed to state or federal court. 

Although OPI’s form to request a due process hearing is not required, one is available to assist individuals in filing a request.  For more information or to request a due process hearing form, please contact the Dispute Resolution Office for Special Education at (406) 444-2046.

Other Resources:

IDEA Special Education Part B Procedural Safeguards Notice (see pages 10-13) 

CADRE Parent Guide IDEA Special Education Due Process Complaints/Hearing Requests

CADRE Parent Guide IDEA Special Education Resolution Meeting

Montana IDEA Special Education Dispute Resolution Comparison Chart