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Office of Special Education
IMPARTIAL HEARING REPORTING SYSTEM



Getting Started — Impartial Hearing Process

Relevant New York State Regulation(s):

  •  8 § NYCRR Part 200.5 (j)(3)

The Regulations of the Commissioner of Education outline the school districtís responsibility to report data on impartial hearings to the State Education Departmentís Office of Special Education. Any district that receives or initiates a request for an impartial hearing must immediately enter the request and record all relevant case information in the web-based Impartial Hearing Reporting System (IHRS). IHRS is a real time system, data entered by the district is immediately recorded and displayed for the purpose of daily monitoring of the timeliness of impartial hearing decisions. The school districtís timely data entry is key to accurate reporting.

Confidentiality is assured in IHRS because no student-specific identifying information is captured. IHRS does not record the name of the student, parents or attorneys involved in an impartial hearing case. A case number is assigned upon the school districtís entry of a record. This case number is used in all references to the case. In IHRS school districts have access to their own case information and Impartial Hearing Officers (IHO) have access to information in cases to which they are appointed.

Responsibilities for Data Reporting and Monitoring


School District Responsibilities

The school district is responsible for timely reporting of all dates and actions related to an impartial hearing in IHRS throughout the process, from receipt of request to closing the case. The districtís policies and procedures relative to impartial hearings and reporting should address each of the items below:

  1. Training for all district staff involved in the impartial hearing process (i.e. contacting the IHO, representing the district in the hearing, attending the hearing, entering hearing data to the IHRS etc.). Useful elements to include in the training program are:

    • The Commissionerís Regulations regarding impartial hearings (200.5) which are posted on the State Education Department (SED) website at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/lawsregs/2001-2005-809.pdf

    • Contents of SEDís guide to the ďImpartial Hearing Process for Students with Disabilities.Ē This document is posted on the SED website at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/ihprocessguide.htm.

    • Contents of the IHRS Help File. This information is accessed by clicking on the Help icon located anywhere in the IHRS site.

    • Emphasis on the timelines related to the request, appointment, hearing, extension and decision events of the process. To access this information:

        1.

      Click on the Help icon located anywhere in the IHRS site to access the online Help File;

      Help File Links
        2.

      Click on Technical Assistance listed on the online Help File navigation menu;

      Help File Links
        3.

      Under Technical Assistance click on IHRS Technical Assistance Follow-up (7/18/06).


    • Clarification of the responsibility of the district representatives (often the district attorney) and the data entry person in data collection.

  2. Identify at least two individuals in the district to have access to IHRS to enter impartial hearing data (e.g., primary user and backup user).

    • Each IHRS user must have a current username and password to access IHRS.

    • To whom do these individuals take data collection/entry concerns (e.g., have not received the data from district attorney or the IHO and/or data is not clear)?

  3. Identify the process for handling impartial hearing requests in the district by answering the following questions:

    • Who receives and date stamps the request?

    • Who enters the information in IHRS?

    • Who contacts the IHO? Is this person familiar with the rotational selection process?

    • Does the district use IHRS to document all IHO contact and appointments?

    • Does the district have a BOE Designee who can immediately appoint the IHO after the district identifies who is next in the rotation and confirms availability? See Maintaining a Case: Appointing an IHO: School District Responsibility for more information regarding a BOE Designee.

    • How does the person who contacts and notifies the IHO of the appointment document their actions? How is this information communicated to the data collection/entry person?

    • If the IHRS is not used to maintain contact information, are these records available upon request?

    • Is this process any different if an appointment is rescinded or the IHO recuses him or herself?

    • Does the appointment letter to the IHO include the name and fax number of the data collection/entry person, so the IHO may fax hearing information directly to them?

    • Does the district forward the compensation policy to the IHO with each appointment?

    • Does the district forward the data collection policy to the IHO with each appointment? The district data collection policy outlines the districtís expectation for communication of required extension and decision information.

    • How does the district notify the IHO when the resolution period has ended before the thirty days?

    • How does the district notify the IHO when a case is settled or withdrawn?

  4. Develop procedures/policy that clearly outline how the district will fulfill its reporting responsibilities. The policy should include:

    • Expectations regarding the timeliness of data communication.

    • Address the use of data collection mechanisms. (Worksheets suggested Ė see Maintaining a Case: Extensions: Case Extension Form as an example in data collection forms for data entry in IHRS.)

    • Ensure the IHO/district representative has contact information for the data collection/entry person in case questions arise pertaining to the collected information.

    The district may wish to include the following in its procedure:

    • The district may choose to have a policy which requires the district representative participating in the hearing to use the data collection sheets and submit them to the data collection/entry person. This policy may include district staff (i.e. CSE Chair, Director of Pupil Personnel) or districtís counsel.

    • It may have a policy in place which requires the IHO to use data collection sheets and submit them to the data collection/entry person. However, if the IHO fails to follow district policy regarding data collection/transmission, this does not relieve the district of its reporting responsibility, particularly since the district is a party to the hearing and presumably the IHO is communicating with both parties at the hearings or by phone or mail.

  5. Develop a process to address how the district will handle email notifications generated by IHRS for late appointments or late cases.

    • To whom will the superintendent forward notification?

    • Who is responsible for responding to the notifications?

Changes in School District Staff Information

IHRS retrieves contact information from the State Education Department Reference File (SEDREF) when notifying the Superintendent and Director of Special Education (DSE) of impartial hearing case activity. If the Superintendentís or DSEís contact information is changed or becomes inactive and is not updated in the SEDREF system they may not receive important notifications regarding impartial hearing case activity.

To ensure there are no interruptions in the appropriate staff receiving IHRS notifications the NYSED's Office of Information and Reporting Services (IRS) must be formally notified so that SEDREF can be updated. VESID staff do not have authorization to change school district staff contact information in SEDREF. If there has been a change in staff, staff contact information or the information entered in SEDREF is incorrect please see the following:

  • For changes to the school district superintendent, notification must be submitted on district letterhead and signed by the former or new superintendent. Please include the staff personís name, title, phone number, email address and indicate that it is a staff contact information change. For more information go to: www.p12.nysed.gov/sedrefupdate.html. The notification may be sent via fax to (518) 474-4351, as an email attachment to SEDREF@mail.nysed.gov or by post mail to:

  • New York State Education Department
    Information and Reporting Services
    89 Washington Avenue, Rm. 865 EBA
    Albany, New York 12234


  • For changes to the DSEís contact information the district may submit notification by email to SEDREF@mail.nysed.gov. Please include the staff personís name, title, school district name, phone number, email address and indicate that it is a staff contact information change.

Impartial Hearing Officer Responsibilities

The Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO) is responsible for communicating all hearing related information to both parties. This communication includes but is not limited to:

  • Response to a request to rule on the sufficiency of a request,

  • Response to a request to amend the due process complaint,

  • Scheduling of hearing dates and closure of the record,

  • Response to each request for an extension, in writing, to both parties. A suggested reporting form is available for IHOs to use to submit extension information to the school districts. See Maintaining a Case: Extensions: Case Extension Form.

  • The IHO must render and mail his or her written decision to both parties no later than 14 days after the record close date or by the case compliance date, whichever occurs first.

  • The IHO must render a written decision regarding pendency prior to determining any other issue relating to the evaluation, identification or placement of a student. See Maintaining a Case: Hearings: What is a Hearing? for more information regarding pendency.

Office of Special Education Responsibilities

The Office of Special Education monitors the timeliness of impartial hearing officer appointments and the timeliness of decisions on a daily basis.

Late Appointment Monitoring

The district has a responsibility to enter an impartial hearing request immediately upon receipt and to initiate appointment of a hearing officer within two days of receipt of the request. Failure to appoint a hearing officer or failure to enter the appointment data in IHRS results in the following:

  • Initial notification to the school district superintendent and director of special education that the appointment is overdue.

  • Second notification to the school district superintendent and director of special education that the appointment continues to be overdue if after the initial notification the district has still not appointed an IHO.

  • Contact with the superintendent to review the activity with district staff and to set a timeline to address the late appointment, a letter is sent to the superintendent to confirm the agreed upon timeline.

  • Failure to meet the agreed upon timeline results in a referral of the issue to New York State Education Departmentís Special Education Quality Assurance (SEQA) for noncompliance.

Late Decision Monitoring

The district has a responsibility to enter issue, hearing, extension and other case information as it occurs. Failure to report time sensitive data may result in the appearance of noncompliance. The case information in IHRS is reviewed daily to ensure compliance with the required regulatory timelines. The SED monitoring protocols include notification to the district and IHO of noncompliance in any aspect of the case. The notification processes include:

  • An initial notification of a late decision is sent to the school district superintendent, director of special education/pupil services and the IHO when a case is open and the compliance date (the date the decision is due) of a case has passed.

  • A second notification of a late decision is sent to the school district superintendent, director of special education/pupil services and the IHO if the initial notification was unsuccessful and the case remains out of compliance.

  • The Office of Special Education contacts the district representative, noted on the case, when the initial and second notifications are unsuccessful and the case remains out of compliance. If it is found that the reason the case appears late is due to district failure to enter the case data in a timely or appropriate manner the following steps occur:

    • Technical assistance is provided to the district to address the data entry issue. A date for correction of the issues is established with the district. If the correction is not completed by the agreed upon date the district may be contacted again.

    • If the case continues to appear out of compliance, and the contact with district staff has proven unsuccessful, the Office of Special Education contacts the school district superintendent to review the district responsibility on the case and determine a date for correction. A letter is sent to the superintendent documenting the date for correction and outlining the non-compliance issue(s). The SEQA Regional Associate (RA) and RA supervisor receive a copy of the letter.

    • If the issue is not corrected by the date identified in the letter to the superintendent and the case continues to appear out of compliance the district is referred to SEQA for corrective action.

  • When the contact with the district determines that the reason the case appears late is due to the IHOís failure to render a decision in a timely manner, the Office of Special Education will contact the IHO to correct the issue. When contact with the IHO fails to correct the noncompliance the Office of Special Education uses a series of Noncompliance Alerts/Notification emails with the IHO. Failure to respond to the Alert/Notifications by bringing the case into compliance with Section 200.5(j)(5) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, may result in an order from the Commissioner to render the decision or other action as outlined in Section 200.21(b) Procedures for suspension or revocation of impartial hearing officer certification.

Timelines for Impartial Hearings

The timeline for an impartial hearing case begins when the district receives a written due process complaint notice (impartial hearing request) from the parent for an impartial hearing or the school district initiates an impartial hearing. The table below identifies the number of days by which certain activities are expected to be completed.

Case Type

IHO Selection Process Initiated

IHO Appointed

Resolution
Period

First Hearing Date

Decision Issued

CSE

Within 2 days from receipt of request.

Immediately

A period of no more than 30 days from receipt of request for parent-initiated requests. A Resolution Meeting must occur within 15 days from receipt of request.

Occurs within 14 days of the end of the resolution period for parent-initiated requests and within 14 days from receipt of request for district-initiated requests.

45 calendar days from the end of the resolution period for parent initiated requests; from the receipt date for district initiated requests; unless an extension is granted.

CPSE

Within 2 days from receipt of request.

Immediately

A period of no more than 30 days from receipt of request for parent-initiated requests. The Resolution Meeting must occur within 15 days from receipt of request.

Occurs within 14 days of the end of the resolution period for parent-initiated requests and within 14 days from receipt of request for district-initiated requests.

30 calendar days from the end of the resolution period for parent initiated requests; from the receipt date for district initiated requests;  unless an extension is granted.

Expedited

Within 2 days from receipt of request.

Immediately

A period of 15 days from receipt of request for parent-initiated requests. The Resolution Meeting must occur within 7 days from receipt of request.

Occurs within 20 school days from date the hearing request is filed.

10 school days after the hearing. No extensions are granted for expedited requests.

Other Timelines Associated with the Impartial Hearing Process

  • The district must allow an IHO 24 hours to respond to a district contact regarding availability to serve as an IHO.

  • In order to ensure that the timelines are accurately implemented the district is responsible for notifying the IHO when:

    • Both parties have agreed, in writing, to waive either the entire resolution period or a remainder of the period.

    • Both parties agree, in writing, to continue mediation or either party has withdrawn from mediation. See Maintaining a Case: Resolution Period: Does Mediation Affect the Resolution Period? For more information on mediation.

    • Both parties have executed a settlement agreement during the resolution period and are closing the case as settled.

  • New hearing information must be disclosed to each party at least 5 business days prior to a hearing or 3 business days in the event of an expedited case.

See Maintaining a Case: Appointing an IHO for more information regarding contacting and appointing an IHO.