Parents of children with disabilities often do not understand their rights as well as California’s special education dispute resolution system. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is an independent state agency that provides resolution services for individuals and government agencies that are in dispute. OAH conducts hearings consistent with their mission statement to provide a neutral forum for fair and independent resolution of matters in a professional, efficient, and innovative way, ensuring due process and respecting the dignity of all.
Understanding the Special Education Division
OAH is divided into two parts:
- The General Jurisdiction Division, and
- The Special Education Division.
The General Jurisdiction Division handles many different types of licensing matters, such as real estate, contractor, and cosmetology licenses, when the state is denying a license or seeking to discipline someone who holds a license.
The Special Education Division provides dispute resolution services in California for special education due process proceedings. OAH conducts hearings, mediation, and settlement services throughout the state to parties involved in special education disputes, including parents of students with disabilities, school districts, special education local plan areas (SELPAs), county mental health departments and charter schools.
OAH provides mediators and judges who work very hard as the neutral party helping parents and school districts work out their differences while following established rules of law. Everyone’s goal is to make sure students with disabilities receive educational opportunities within the framework of the laws and regulations that govern special education within the state of California. OAH’s main goal is to make sure the law is upheld and both sides receive a fair and impartial hearing process.
OAH has a guide for the Special Education Due Process Hearings. The guide contains answers to frequently asked questions about the hearing process to help parents better understand California’s special education dispute resolution system. It is not mandatory to start the process, but it provides useful background information for the hearing process and what a parent can expect.
If you have questions, contact either the staff in the Sacramento Special Education office at (916) 263-0880 or our office at (916) 789-9800.