Overview of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals.

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The Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) was established in 1974 under Section 4H of Chapter 7 of the Massachusetts General Laws. DALA is under the purview of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (EOAF) and operates under the direction of a chief administrative magistrate, who was appointed on April 1, 2015 by the Secretary of EOAF with the approval of the Governor.

Currently, DALA consists of two units: the General Jurisdiction Unit (GJU) and the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA). According to DALA’s internal control plan,

DALA is an independent agency that provides due process adjudications and other dispute resolution services for . . . Massachusetts state administrative agencies.

With regard to the GJU, [DALA’s] services are limited to providing due process adjudications. Cases come to GJU in two ways: (1) by legislation mandating that certain types of cases be heard at DALA; and (2) upon request of an agency, subject to the approval of the DALA Chief Administrative Magistrate and the Secretary of Administration and Finance (A&F). Currently, DALA conducts adjudications for approximately 20 state agencies, including, the Contributory Retirement Appeal Board, the Board of Registration in Medicine, the Department of Public Health and the Fair Labor Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

[BSEA], an independent bureau within DALA, provides a broad range of dispute resolution services concerning eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education programs (IEPs), special education services and procedural protections for students with disabilities. [BSEA’s] dispute resolution services include providing mediations, hearings and advisory opinions. Within the last five years, BSEA has also provided facilitators for school districts’ IEP meetings.

Parties to these proceedings may include parents, school districts, private schools, the Department of Education and other state agencies.

The BSEA is primarily federally funded through a grant managed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”). The Bureau was transferred from DESE to DALA by Chapter 131 of the Acts of 2010 to ensure independence from any educational agency that could be a party to or interested in the proceedings before the Bureau.

GJU hears the following types of cases, each coded in its file system with a two-, three-, or four-letter code:


State Boards


Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance


Contributory Retirement Appeal Board


Civil Services


Department of Environmental Protection


Executive Office of Elder Affairs


Department of Agricultural Resources


Department of Conservation and Recreation


Department of Unemployment Assistance


Office of the Attorney General—Fair Labor Division


Commission against Discrimination




Department of Early Education and Care


Department of Public Health (PH)


PH—Ambulance Companies


PH—Emergency Technicians


PH—Food and Drug


PH—Nursing Aides


PH—Nursing Homes


Board of Registration in Medicine


Executive Office of Health and Human Services—Rate Setting


Department of Veterans’ Services


BSEA uses software known as Time Matters to manage and track cases from initial acknowledgment to the final decision phase. In 2016, GJU had replaced its previous Access computer application with Time Matters.

DALA’s funding for fiscal years 2018 through 2020 was as follows:


Direct Appropriations

Federal Grant*

Total Budget

Fiscal Year 2018




Fiscal Year 2019




Fiscal Year 2020




*     BSEA is primarily funded through federal grants issued to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and DESE provides funding to BSEA through an interagency agreement. The amounts shown correspond to the federal fiscal year beginning October 1.


As of December 31, 2019, DALA had 10 GJU employees and 20 BSEA employees, including magistrates, hearing officers, mediators, and administrative assistants. Its headquarters are on the fourth floor of 14 Summer Street in Malden.

Date published: April 7, 2021

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