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Resolution Options

When a dispute arises between parents and educators, there are several ways in which they can try to resolve it.

Informal Options

The following options can take the form of conversations and explore a variety of possible solutions to address student needs.

  • Local resolution
    Parents and educators can talk with each other directly and attempt a resolution.
  • IEP team meeting
    The IEP team can meet to discuss the issue and how it affects the student’s IEP.
  • Facilitated IEP meeting
    Educators and parents can request a trained, neutral facilitator to help IEP team members work through an issue.
  • Mediation
    Parents and educators can request a trained, neutral mediator to help them brainstorm possible solutions.

Formal Options

The options below involve written complaints and prescribed procedures.

State Complaint

A person who has a disagreement with a school district can file a state complaint with the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSE). A state complaint alleges a violation of special education law, regulation, or a student’s IEP. The OSE generally allows 10 days for the parties to resolve the dispute by other means if they wish. After 10 days the OSE begins an investigation that leads to a final report. The report states whether the school district is in compliance or not in compliance with the law and whether corrective action is necessary.

Due Process Complaint

A parent may file a due process complaint against a school district with the OSE. This type of complaint generally addresses such issues as eligibility for special education services, evaluation, placement, discipline, and service delivery. The school district is required to hold a resolution session so that the parent and the school have one more chance to resolve the issue on their own. The parties can mutually agree to request a facilitator for the session; if the session is successful, the parties sign a settlement agreement. The parties also can mutually agree to waive the resolutions session and go directly to a hearing or to mediation. In a hearing, an administrative law judge listens to the arguments on both sides of the complaint and renders a written decision.

Using More Than One Option

All of the above methods for resolving disputes are always available and can be used at the same time. The OSE has developed a special procedure for those who file state or due process complaints and wish to explore mediation while the complaint is pending. The complainant can sign an OSE form that permits the OSE to share his or her contact information with the MSEMP. The MSEMP will contact the complainant to explain the mediation process or assist in setting up a mediation session. The majority of such mediations have resulted in agreements. Agreements enable complainants to withdraw their complaints if they wish.