The SpedEx Program is a dispute resolution option that is available in certain cases after an IEP has been rejected or a hearing request has been filed. It is designed to assure that a child receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE); is voluntary and will build trust between parents and schools; is expedient; and provides a jointly agreed-upon independent SpedEx consultant to review evidence and advise the parties on FAPE and LRE so they may resolve their dispute. The consultant is chosen from a list maintained by the Spedex Administrator.
System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 

System Design/Management

Key features:

  • Use of an independent, neutral, educational SpedEx consultant jointly agreed-upon by parent and school whose fee will be paid by the DESE
  • Placement of students by agreement within 30 days with post-placement observation by SpedEx consultant
  • Decisions made through joint school-family knowledge and cooperationSpedEx is an on-going experimental project, with limited funding (eight cases) for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Requests for this option after an IEP has been rejected or a hearing request has been filed will generally be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.


Typical SpedEx Timeline:
After an IEP has been rejected or a hearing request filed...

  • Inquire to the SpedEx administrator as to whether the case may be appropriate for SpedEx.
  • Ask the other party (parent or school) to agree to engage the SpedEx dispute resolution process.
  • Parties jointly select 1-3 SpedEx consultants, in order of preference, they will agree to review the case. (First choice may not always be available.) Notify the SpedEx administrator.
  • SpedEx administrator contracts with one consultant to review the case. Parties are notified.
  • School administrator facilitates permissions for consultant to enter school facilities, access student records, observe, and interview appropriate school staff.
  • Consultant then has approximately 30 school days to interview parties, which may include the child, observe, review relevant documents, and prepare a report advising the parties on FAPE and LRE to resolve their dispute.
  • Following delivery of the report to the parties by the SpedEx administrator, parties agree to adopt the consultant's recommendations and then sign an IEP reflecting their agreement (suggested: agreement decision made within 10 days), with placement of the child within 30 days. If they reject the consultant's recommendations they may pursue their due process rights.
  • Regardless of the parties' decision, the SpedEx consultant's report becomes part of the child's permanent record.
  • If the SpedEx consultant's recommendations are adopted, parties may request the consultant to make a follow-up observation within 30 days of placement.
  • At the conclusion of the SpedEx process, the SpedEx administrator contacts both parties to solicit their opinions on the SpedEx process.

The parties are not bound by the consultant's report and recommendation. If the parties agree to the SpedEx recommendation, the dispute is considered resolved. Upon agreement the child is placed in the program recommended by the consultant and the SpedEx consultant observes the child in the program to observe whether the signed IEP is being implemented. If the parties do not agree with the SpedEx recommendation, the parties may pursue their due process rights. The consultant reserves the right to reject applications that are not consistent with the pilot objectives.


The independent SpedEx consultant can assist parties to determine the program the child needs to assure a FAPE in the LRE. Use of an independent, neutral educational SpedEx consultant jointly agreed-upon by family and school. 

ESE has solicited and elected an administrator of the SpedEx Program, Dr. Alec Peck, Professor of Education at Boston College. Professor Peck will set up a database to administer the program, maintain schedules, contract with the SpedEx consultants, conduct satisfaction surveys, and develop data to assess the efficacy of the pilot project.

Practitioner Standards & Professional Development: 

Practitioner Qualifications

Applications for inclusion on the list of SpedEx consultants will be accepted throughout the life of the pilot project (i.e., three years). Persons who may wish to be included on the list of SpedEx consultants must have at least a Master's Degree and three years experience in their field of expertise. In addition, a SpedEx consultant must hold the appropriate license or certification in their area of expertise; should possess an understanding of the legal basis of FAPE - a free appropriate public education - and LRE - least restrictive environment; be prepared to review and recommend programs that meet the needs of the student, that is, provide FAPE in the LRE; be able to maintain strict neutrality and work expeditiously to gather necessary information from all parties; seek to promote dispute resolution through cooperation and trust between schools and parents; and be willing and able follow up agreements with an on-site visit to the child in the agreed-upon program.


SpedEx consultant fee paid by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Public Awareness & Outreach Activities: 

Availability/Accessing Services

Requests for this option after a hearing request has been filed will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The SpedEx Administrator, David Scanlon, can assist parties to determine if SpedEx is an appropriate process for them to use in resolving their dispute about a child’s FAPE in the LRE. For more information, please visit:



Program Contact

David Scanlon