“Parents or educational agencies may resolve educational disputes through a mechanism called due process. Due process differs from other dispute resolution opportunities in that a Hearing Officer decides the dispute for the parties. Throughout the due process proceedings, resolution through mediation remains available to the parties. In addition, during the proceedings the parties may settle some or all of the issues among themselves at any time.
Due process hearings are similar to trials, with the Hearing Officer presiding and acting as a judge. An attorney will represent the educational agency. The parent may also be represented by an attorney, or may proceed without counsel. Witnesses are questioned and cross-examined, and evidence is admitted into the record for the Hearing Officer’s consideration. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer issues a written decision, which is a legally enforceable document setting forth the legal obligations of all the parties.”