If you and the school still don't agree about whether your child qualifies, the next option is a due process hearing.
This is a formal process that is like a lawsuit. It is run by the Louisiana Department of Education Legal Division.
A trained, neutral officer will listen to both sides, review the evidence, and then make a decision.
Here's what you can do:
1) Consider getting help from a lawyer. It's not required, but it is strongly recommended.
Click on the box below for a review of how to get legal help:
You may need to find a lawyer to help you resolve your dispute.
It’s best to find one who has lots of experience with special education laws and regulations.
Choose a lawyer who lists one of these as their specialty:
Be sure to ask in advance about fees. Fees will vary based on each lawyer's experience and how complex the case is.
If you can't afford a lawyer, try calling one of these organizations:
They should be able to give you free advice and maybe free or low cost legal help.
Click on the title and the website will open in a new tab.
The Advocacy Center of LA provides free services. Call their hotline at 800-960-7705.
The Louisiana Civil Justice Center offers a free legal hotline with brief advice and attorney referrals. Call 800-310-7029, Monday-Friday 9am-4pm.
Louisiana State Bar Legal Education and Assistance Program provides a search directory by parish that includes legal aid organizations. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select your parish.
The Southeast Louisiana Legal Services provides legal aid to low-income people. Visit their website to find contact information for an office located near you.
The courts may also provide some legal assistance but there is no guarantee.
You can also call the LA DOE and ask if they can help you find free legal assistance.
Use our Resource Directory. Look in the Legal category under Services.
Reminder: We do not endorse any of these providers. We are simply providing links for your reference.
To find legal help:
Please note that when you click on a link, the website will open in a new tab or window on your screen. When searching through these resources, look for lawyers who specialize in special education law.
Search for lawyers in your parish through the Disabilities Assistance Network. This list isn't comprehensive; the people listed here have asked to be included.
Check with the Louisiana Bar Association's Referral Service. In New Orleans you can call 504-561-8828; in Baton Rouge you can call 225-344-9926.
You can also call the Louisiana Bar Association at 1-800-421-5722 for help finding a lawyer in your area.
Special Needs Alliance: Louisiana Listings.
If the final decision is that your child is found to have "no exceptionality" or if the district's finding of no exceptionality is not overturned, your child will not receive an IEP. Speak with the school about your next steps.
Feel free to keep reading if you wish, or click the logo in the top left of the screen to try another Exceptional Lives Guide.
Source: LA DOE
2) File for a hearing. Either you, an attorney on your behalf, or the school can start this process.
Click on the link at the bottom of the page to download the Hearing Request Form from LDOE. (It will open in a new tab or be at the bottom corner of your screen.)
3) Fill out the form. Be sure to carefully describe your concerns and what you think the solutions should be. You must list all of your concerns here, because the hearing can only address the issues you list on this form.
The request must be made within one year of the date that the alleged action was known or should have been known.
4) Send a signed written request with all required information to the special education director or superintendent of the school district about which you are complaining.
5) Make a copy of the form for yourself and keep it in your IEP notebook.
6) Send a copy to:
Louisiana Department of Education, Attn: Legal Division
P. O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9064
Click on the box below to find out what happens next:
1. Once a request for a hearing is received, the LDE will issue an acknowledgement of receipt and forward the request to the Division of Administrative Law, an independent state agency that conducts due process hearings for the LDE.
2. The Division of Administrative Law will assign an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to the case, and he or she will be provided with a copy of the hearing request. Otherwise, the request remains confidential.
3. The ALJ will then coordinate a pre-hearing conference to discuss the hearing process and establish a schedule for activities related to the hearing.
4. The school district is required to convene a resolution meeting within 15 days of receipt of a request for a due process hearing.
5. If the parent and the school district have not resolved the due process complaint within 30 calendar days of receipt of the request, the due process hearing timeline begins.
6. The 45-calendar-day timeline for issuing a final decision begins at the expiration of the 30 calendar-day resolution period.
7. The parent and the school district may agree in writing to waive the resolution session or to use the mediation process instead of conducting a resolution meeting. If the resolution session is waived, the 45 day hearing timeline begins on the date of the waiver.
Source: LA DOE