The Department of Defense provides special education, related services, and early intervention services to eligible DoD dependents pursuant to the non-funding provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) as implemented within the Department of Defense by Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1342.12 (June 17, 2015) and Department of Defense Manual (DoDM) 1342.12 (June 17, 2015). [copies at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/134212p.pdf and http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/134212p.pdfand also published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at Title 32, Part 57.]
The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), administers the due process dispute resolution provisions of IDEA 2004 as implemented by the DoDI and DoDM. Administrative Judges of DOHA are appointed as Hearing Officers responsible for convening and conducting an impartial due process hearing when a request for due process has been filed relating to disagreements over special education and related services, or over early intervention services, under IDEA 2004. A request for a due process hearing may be filed by the parents of the dependent child, or by the school principal or designated agent on behalf of a DoDEA school, or by the commander of the cognizant military treatment facility or designated agent on behalf of the Military Medical entity responsible for providing services. The request for due process must be filed with the Director, DOHA, and must comply with the requirements of DoDI 1342.12 and DoDM 1342.12. DOHA Department Counsel normally appear in such hearings to assist counsel from DoDEA or the Military Department.
Before the due process hearing may proceed in a special education case, the Hearing Officer will expect the parties to confirm whether they have participated in the “Resolution Meeting” that is required by IDEA 2004. This meeting is intended to provide an additional opportunity to resolve disputes without the necessity of proceeding to a due process hearing. Requirements for this meeting can be found in the IDEA (2004) and DoDM 1342.12. There is no similar requirement for IDEA disputes over early intervention services.
Mediation is an often effective alternative to due process hearings that all parties are encouraged to consider. In addition, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 sets forth specific requirements for a Resolution Meeting to be held between the parents and the school system. This meeting is intended to provide an additional opportunity to resolve disputes without the necessity of proceeding to a due process hearing.
IDEA 2004 also emphasizes that Mediation is an often effective alternative to due process hearings. Mediation of the dispute can occur at any time, and under IDEA 2004 all parties are encouraged to consider this option for resolving their disagreements.
During due process, the DOHA Hearing Officer is responsible for examining and deciding the dispute that was identified in the request for due process. He or she will do so in accordance with the rights and responsibilities established by IDEA 2004, as applied to DoD by DoDI 1342.12 and DoDM 1342.12. After a due process hearing has been completed, the Hearing Officer will issue a final decision. A party may appeal the hearing officer’s findings of fact and decision by filing a written notice of appeal with the Director, DOHA. The filing must comply with the deadlines and requirements of DoDI 1342.12 and DoDM 1342.12. The DOHA Appeal Board decision will be the final administrative decision on the due process dispute.
For further information about IDEA as applied to DoD, or about the DOHA processes or mediation, please click on the links to DoDI 1342.12 and DoDM 1342.12, above.