Learn about the due process hearing

A due process hearing is the first step in the formal process of special education dispute resolution.


A due process hearing may address an argument about the eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education program (IEP), provision of special education, or procedural protections of state and federal law for students with disabilities.

A parent or school district may file for a hearing.  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 on a parent's written revocation of consent for further receipt of all special education and related services.

Once a hearing date is scheduled, parties have the option of going to settlement conference or advisory opinion.  These options allow for compromise and do not go before a hearing officer.

You do not need to have an attorney at the due process hearing; you may represent yourself.

Hearing Officers

Due process hearings are conducted by impartial hearing officers employed by the BSEA. The hearing officers do not have personal or professional interests that would conflict with their objectivity in the hearing.

BSEA hearing officers have the power and the duty to:

  • conduct a fair hearing;
  • ensure that the rights of all parties are protected;
  • define issues;
  • receive and consider all relevant and reliable evidence;
  • ensure an orderly presentation of the evidence and issues;
  • order additional evaluations by the school district or independent educational evaluations at public expense when necessary in order to determine the appropriate special education for the student;
  • reconvene the hearing at any time prior to the issuance of a decision;
  • take such other steps as are appropriate to assure the orderly presentation of evidence and protection of the parties' rights at the hearing;
  • ensure a record is made of the proceedings; and
  • reach a fair, independent, and impartial decision based on the issues and evidence presented at the hearing and in accordance with applicable law.

Anyone may, upon request, obtain from the BSEA a list of the hearing officers with their qualifications.

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