Request a Due Process Hearing
A due process hearing is a formal, legal proceeding conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ). Parents and districts have a right to present and question witnesses, and to submit or challenge documents regarding the issues.
A written request for a due process hearing is made by a parent or district relating to issues about the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of Free Appropriate Public Education to a student. Requests must be made within—and allege violations that occurred not more than—two years before the date you knew or should have known about the allegation. Only an administrative law judge may allow an exception to the two-year timeframe.
2. What are the requirements for requesting a due process hearing?
A due process hearing request must:
- Be in writing and be signed.
- Include the name, address, and other contact information of the student at issue in the due process hearing request. This includes contact information for a student who is homeless.
- Include the name of the school the student attends.
- Include the name of the school district that is responsible for the student’s special education program.
- Include a description of the problem and the facts and events related to the problem.
- Include a proposed resolution, if you think you know or have ideas about what it could be.
Your request may be denied or delayed if you do not include all of this information.
3. Where do I file my due process hearing request?
You must provide your original request to:
- The other party.
If you are a parent: Send your original request to the superintendent of your student’s school district. Get school district contact info
If you are a school district: Send your original request to the parent.
AND send a copy to:
- OSPI, Administrative Resource Services
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Attn: Administrative Resource Services
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200
It is up to the party requesting a due process hearing to provide proof that their request was given to the other party. Any issues about whether or when the request was received will be decided by an administrative law judge (ALJ).
7. What is the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH)? What do they do with my request?
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is a Washington state agency that conducts administrative hearings for many state agencies, including OSPI. Once OAH receives your request they assign it to an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will send written confirmation of receipt of the request to both parties. The ALJ is in charge of the hearing process.
Once OAH receives your request they assign it to an ALJ. The ALJ will send written confirmation of receipt of the request to both parties. The ALJ is in charge of the hearing process.
8. Who are the administrative law judges (ALJ)?
In accordance with 20 USC §1415(f), 34 CFR §300.508, and WAC 392-172A-05095, administrative law judges (ALJs) are assigned to conduct special education due process hearings. Each ALJ is an employee of, or contractor with, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). Judges cannot be an employee of OSPI or the school district that is involved in the education or care of the student. OSPI maintains a list of the persons who serve as administrative law judges:
Updated December 2016
9. What is a resolution session?
When parents file a due process hearing request, districts must hold a resolution session within 15 days of the request (or 7 days if it is a hearing involving discipline) to try to resolve the dispute. Due process hearing timelines will start after the resolution session process occurs, or if parties agree to waive the resolution process. More information about resolution sessions can be found in Information and Forms on Resolution Sessions.
10. How long does a due process hearing take?
An ALJ must issue a final decision not later than 45 days after the hearing timeframe begins. An extension of this timeframe can be granted by the ALJ at the request of either party. Hearings involving discipline have different timeframes; see “What if my due process hearing involves discipline?”
11. What is “stay put”?
If your due process hearing does not involve discipline issues, the student must stay in his or her current educational placement until the hearing is completed. The parties may also agree to another placement.
12. What if my due process hearing involves discipline?
If your due process hearing involves discipline issues, your hearing will be expedited. The hearing must happen within 20 school days from the date the hearing is requested. The ALJ must issue a decision within 10 school days after the date of the hearing.
During this time, the student must stay in an interim alternative educational setting until one of the follow happens:
- The ALJ issues a decision,
- The disciplinary time period expires, or
- The parties agree to something else.
13. Can I get advice from an attorney?
Parents and school districts may be accompanied and advised by an attorney during a due process hearing. Parents may be accompanied by an advocate, or someone else who has knowledge or training about special education. Contact information for attorneys and advocates can be found in the Legal Assistance List (PDF).
This information is intended to provide guidance about requirements under IDEA Part B. It does not address every requirement contained in chapter 392-172A WAC and it is not legal advice. The intent is to support and not replace careful study of the IDEA and Washington state regulations implementing the IDEA.
Notice of Procedural Safeguards
for Students and Their Families
Legal Assistance List