Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Are you the parent of a child that has a learning disability that has filed for a due process hearing? Has your school offered a settlement, and you wonder what to do about it? Do you want to make sure that the settlement is enforceable in state or federal court? This article will discuss 7 issues that you need to keep in mind for a special education settlement agreement.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act there are 2 types of settlement agreements.

1. A written settlement prepared at a resolution session, after due process is filed.
2. A written settlement prepared at a mediation meeting by a mediator.

Keep these things in mind when preparing and agreeing to a special education settlement agreement:

1. Read the settlement agreement from beginning to end. Consider showing the agreement to a special education attorney or an experienced advocate, to ensure that it is a fair agreement.

2. Only settlement agreements prepared at a resolution meeting (after due process is filed for by the parents), or a mediation are enforceable in state or federal court. So be careful!

3. The agreement should be in writing, be specific, be dated, and signed by both parties. Make sure that any promises of services have dates for starting and/or ending services! Also make sure that if a particular service is offered that it states who will provide the service. For example: Speech Therapy will be provided for 90 minutes per week by a Licensed Speech Language Pathologist. The Therapy will begin in 2 weeks; which is the week of March 15, 200_ and will end May 28, 200_.

4. If you already started a due process hearing and the school district offers a legally binding settlement agreement, consider doing a consent decree. A consent decree is done by a hearing officer. The agreement is actually read into the record, and is treated as a regular due process hearing officer decision. Check with your state board of education and see if they allow consent decrees and if they can be enforced by the state board of education.

5. Most settlement agreements have confidentiality agreements included as part of them. What this means is that the parents are agreeing to not tell anyone what the settlement agreement contains. You will have to decide if you are willing to agree with this or not.

6. Most school districts put in agreements that this agreement will settle any past disputes between parents and the school district. Make sure that the agreement does not say future disputes; as you do not want to give up any IDEA rights in the future.

7. If a settlement agreement contains an offer for a private placement at public expense, make sure that the agreement does not contain a waiver of stay put. If your child does well in the private school and you have waived stay put, you will have difficulty keeping your child in the private school for stay put. There are ways around this, but it will be difficult and time consuming.

I think any settlement that has waiver of rights, should be looked at with a microscope! You do not want to make it difficult in the future to ensure that your child receives a free appropriate public education!

By keeping these things in mind you will ensure a fair special education settlement agreement that will benefit your child’s education!

By rahul