Neutral Conferences - New Hampshire

A Neutral Conference is a voluntary, confidential process presided over by a trained, neutral professional who listens to both sides of a dispute and makes a recommendation which both sides may either adopt or refuse. Neutral Conferences are a simplified version of a hearing involving no discovery and simplified rules of evidence. A neutral evaluation consists of an informal, abbreviated presentation of case facts and issues by the parties to a neutral evaluator appointed by the Office of Legislation and Hearings. The neutral evaluator is responsible for reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the case and issuing a written report, a copy of which is given to all parties.
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Not less than 5 days prior to the neutral evaluation, the parties will submit to the neutral evaluator and exchange a summary of the significant aspects of their case. The parties will attach copies of all documents on which they rely to the summary. These      more/lesssummaries must be not more than 4 pages. At the neutral evaluation, the parties must be present and have authority to authorize settlement. If the neutral evaluator determines it necessary, he or she may request additional written information prior to the evaluation from either party. At the neutral evaluation, the neutral evaluator may address questions to the parties and will allow each party no more than 30 minutes to complement their written summaries with a brief oral statement. The evaluation will be limited to not more than 2 hours. The neutral evaluator will issue an oral opinion following the conference with a written report mailed to the parties within 48 hours of the conference excluding Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday. The report will contain a suggested settlement or disposition as well as the reasoning that led to the suggested settlement or disposition. 

At the conclusion of a scheduled neutral evaluation the evaluator will advise the Office of Legislation and Hearings as follows:

  1. If the neutral evaluation results in agreement, the conclusions will be incorporated into a written binding agreement signed by each party with a copy to the Office of Legislation and Hearings; or
  2. If the neutral evaluation does not result in agreement, the neutral evaluator will report only the date and the participants at the meeting.

The Department is not responsible for enforcement of agreements. Agreements are enforceable in a court of competent jurisdiction. 

Alternative Dispute Resolution186-C:23-b Neutral Conference.


  1. The neutral evaluator will not have personal knowledge of any of the parties.
  2. After receiving notice of appointment in a case, the neutral evaluator will disclose any circumstances likely to create a conflict of interest, the appearance a conflict of interest, a reasonable inference of bias, or any circumstances likely to prevent the process from proceeding as scheduled;
  3. If the neutral evaluator withdraws, has a conflict of interest, or is otherwise  unavailable, a replacement neutral evaluator will be appointed by the Office of Legislation and Hearings to hear the issue; and
  4. The neutral evaluator will not act as a legal advisor or legal representative.

Parties must not communicate with the neutral evaluator concerning their case outside of the neutral evaluation.

Forms/Letter Templates

Program Contact

Stephen Berwick
New Hampshire Dept. of Education, Bureau of Special Education