Overview of the BSEA and its dispute resolution processes
The Bureau of Special Education Appeals ("BSEA") conducts mediations, advisory opinions and due process hearings to resolve disputes among parents, school districts, private schools and state agencies. The BSEA derives its authority from both federal law and regulations (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, "IDEA") and Massachusetts law and regulations. (MGL ch. 71B)
A parent or a school district may request mediation, advisory opinion and/or a hearing on any matter concerning the eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education program (IEP), provision of special education in accordance with state and federal law, or procedural protections of state and federal law for students with disabilities. A school district may not request a hearing on a parent's failure or refusal to consent to initial evaluation or initial placement of a child in a special education program or to written revocation of parental consent for further receipt of special education and related services. In addition, a parent may request a hearing on any issue involving the denial of the free appropriate public education guaranteed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Mediations, advisory opinions and hearings are conducted by impartial mediators and hearing officers who do not have personal or professional interests that would conflict with their objectivity in the proceeding. The BSEA consists of seven hearing officers, all of whom are attorneys, seven mediators, a coordinator of mediation, a scheduling coordinator, support staff, and a director.
The BSEA is an independent subdivision of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals.