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School Business Affairs


Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures are the cornerstone of the provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that mandate the timely resolution of disagreements between parents and school officials.

ADR procedures are in the form of mediation and resolution sessions that are held before culminating in due process hearings. The sessions are designed to be speedier, less costly, and less adversarial than litigation. Subject to infrequent exceptions, disagreements can be subject to judicial review only after parents and education officials have exhausted the administrative remedies under the IDEA. The provisions establish time frames that parties must meet before they can initiate litigation.

In light of the potential complexity of the IDEA’s ADR process, those procedures can be costly and confusing for school districts. Accordingly, this column reviews the IDEA’s ADR options, starting with mediation, resolution sessions, and due process hearings. It then offers recommendations for education leaders to ensure compliance with the IDEA’s ADR procedures.

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This document has been made available for download by permission of the publisher.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 School Business Affairs magazine and is reprinted with permission of the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). The text herein does not necessarily represent the views or policies of ASBO International, and use of this imprint does not imply any endorsement or recognition by ASBO International and its officers or affiliates. Any additional re-purposing or reprint of this article in this or any other medium is restricted without prior written consent.

Permission documentation is on file.


Association of School Business Officials





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Reston, VA



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