The Office of Student Learning & Partnerships also offers other dispute resolution options including mediation, IEP facilitation, and the ALJ settlement conference.
The advisory opinion ALJ will schedule a date consistent with the parties’ identified available dates as indicated in the request for the advisory opinion process, or another date acceptable to the parties. The advisory opinion ALJ will send a notice to the parties confirming the date, time, and location of the advisory opinion proceeding as well as a copy of the advisory opinion procedure.
Each party must exchange copies of documents intended to be submitted to the advisory opinion ALJ and the names of any witnesses no later than five calendar days before the advisory opinion proceeding. Each party must simultaneously exchange documents with each other and the ALJ. The advisory opinion ALJ will accept only essential and reliable exhibits, which may include the most recent IEP, revisions to the IEP, educational evaluations, progress reports, transcripts, independent evaluations and teacher narratives.
The parties must agree in writing, before the beginning of the advisory opinion proceeding, to abide by the following procedures in the advisory opinion proceeding:
(1) The proceedings will not be recorded or transcribed;
(2) The process will not be open to the public;
(3) Witness presentations, whether in question and answer format or not, will not be under oath but all witnesses are expected to tell the truth;
(4) Unless the advisory opinion ALJ determines otherwise, once the advisory opinion
proceeding has begun, there will be no adjournments;
(5) The parties’ presentations will be conducted as follows:
(a) The party requesting the hearing will be allocated 90 minutes to present that party’s case. No cross-examination or objections will be permitted during this time.
(b) The responding party will then be allocated 90 minutes to present that party’scase. No cross-examination or objections will be permitted during this time.
(c) The requesting party will then have 15 minutes to ask questions of any witness or elaborate on any part of that party’s case.
(d) The responding party will then have 15 minutes to ask questions of any witness or elaborate on any part of that party’s case.
(6) The advisory opinion ALJ may ask questions of any witness at any time. Time consumed in responding to the ALJ questions will not extend a party’s allocated periods.
(7) The advisory opinion ALJ will render an oral advisory opinion within an hour ofthe close of presentations. The advisory opinion ALJ need not respond to questions concerning such advisory opinions.
(8) After rendering an advisory opinion, an advisory opinion ALJ may facilitate settlement discussions.
(9) The rendering of any advisory opinion will have no effect on a party’s right to proceed to a due process hearing, or on the outcome of any due process hearing, and the advisory opinion will be confidential and will not be admissible in any due process hearing.
(10) An advisory opinion ALJ shall not be a witness in any subsequent due process hearing involving the issued raised in the advisory opinion process and shall be precluded from serving as a ALJ in any later hearing involving issues raised in the advisory opinion process.
The Office of Administrative Hearings will assign an advisory opinion ALJ who will not be the ALJ assigned to the full hearing. The ALJ gives an informal, verbal, non-binding opinion about the merits of the case.
- Parties should not spend time on uncontested issues or on qualifications of witness or any other aspects of the case that could be provided in writing to the ALJ.
- Parties should focus the testimony on the specific factual or legal disagreement and provide specific evidence supporting their position.
- Parties should come prepared to discuss settlement options at the end of the advisory opinion process.
The administrative law judges used in the advisory opinion have received training in special education law.
The parties may jointly request an advisory opinion by submitting a written request to the Office of Student Learning & Partnerships. The advisory opinion process is not available after a hearing begins. The request must include a statement of the issues in dispute and a proposed resolution of those issues. One party may make a written request for an advisory opinion by simultaneously providing a copy of the request to the other party. If the non-requesting party agrees to participate in the advisory opinion process, that party shall notify the Office of Student Learning & Partnerships and the requesting party within 10 business days.
As may be necessary, the parties to the advisory opinion process may request a postponement of a prehearing conference or of any scheduled hearing date. The ALJ assigned to the full hearing will reschedule such hearing date and other dates, as appropriate, with the cooperation of the parties.