Fiscal Year 2020 Report
The Bureau of Special Education Appeals ("BSEA"), an independent subdivision of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, conducts mediations 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 and/or a due process hearing on any matter concerning the eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education program (IEP), provision of special education, or procedural protections for students with disabilities, in accordance with state and federal law. 
In addition, a parent may request a hearing on any issue involving the denial of a free appropriate public education guaranteed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Mediations 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 comprises six hearing officers (all of whom are attorneys), six mediators, a coordinator of mediation, a scheduling coordinator, administrative staff and a director.
What follows is a summary of BSEA data for fiscal year 2020 (covering the period July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020).
There were approximately 9,442 rejected IEPs received by the BSEA during FY 2020, representing a decrease from the 11,979 received in the prior year.
Facilitated IEP TEAM Meetings
This year the BSEA conducted 77 facilitated IEP Team meetings, a decrease from the 114 conducted during the previous year. (Note that 8 requests for facilitated IEP Team meetings had to be declined by the BSEA this year owing to staff unavailability.)
There were 573 mediations conducted in FY 2020, a decrease from the 714 conducted during the prior year, with an agreement rate of 83 %.
Due Process Hearings
The BSEA received 379 hearing requests during FY 2020, a decrease from the 483 requests received in the prior year. BSEA hearing officers conducted full hearings resulting in the issuance of 19 decisions (the same number of decisions issued in the previous year). In addition, 44 substantive written rulings were issued (as compared to 48 in the previous year).
Prevailing Party: parents; public school district; other
Of the 19 decisions noted above, parents fully prevailed in 4, school districts fully prevailed in 10, mixed relief was granted in 4, and 1 matter involved a dispute between an LEA and the DESE.
Statistics with respect to outcome in relation to representation are as follows:
--of the 4 cases in which parents fully prevailed:
parents were represented by counsel in all 4 matters; the school district was represented by counsel in all 4 matters;
--of the 10 cases in which school districts fully prevailed:
parents were represented by counsel in 3 matters, by an advocate in 1 matter and appeared pro se in 6 cases; the school district was represented by counsel in all 10 matters;
--of the 4 cases which involved mixed relief, parents were represented by counsel in 2; were pro se in 2, and the school district was represented by counsel in all 4 matters;
in the 1 matter involving a dispute between an LEA and the DESE, both public school and DESE were represented by counsel.
As of the date of this report, settlement conferences were held in 68 of the cases that were filed for hearing in FY 2020 (as compared to 76 in FY 2019 cases). Of these, 62 were settled.
 In addition to mediation and due process hearings (both of which must be offered pursuant to federal law), the BSEA offers alternative dispute resolution processes including IEP Team meeting facilitations and settlement conferences.
 A school district may not, however, 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 provision of special education and related services.