32 CFR Appendix C to Part 80, Hearing Procedures
This appendix establishes adjudicative requirements whereby the parents of infants, toddlers, preschool children, and children who are covered by this part and, as the case may be, the cognizant Military Department or Section 6 School System are afforded impartial due process hearings and administrative appeals on the early intervention services or identification, evaluation, and educational placement of, and the free appropriate public education provided to, such children by the Department of Defense, in accordance with Pub. L. 101-476, as amended, 20 U.S.C. sec. 1401et seq.; Pub. L. 81-874, sec. 6, as amended, 20 U.S.C. sec. 241; Pub. L. 97-35, sec. 505(c), 20 U.S.C. sec. 241 note; and Pub. L. 102-119, sec. 23, 20 U.S.C. sec. 241(a).
1. The Directorate for the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) shall have administrative responsibility for the proceedings authorized by this appendix.
2. This appendix shall be administered to ensure that the findings, judgments, and determinations made are prompt, fair, and impartial.
3. Impartial hearing officers, who shall be DOHA Administrative Judges, shall be appointed by the Director, DOHA, and shall be attorneys who are independent of the Section 6 School System or the Military Department concerned in proceedings conducted under this appendix. A parent shall have the right to be represented in such proceedings, at no cost to the government, by counsel and by persons with special knowledge or training with respect to the problems of individuals with disabilities. DOHA Department Counsel normally shall appear and represent the Section 6 School System in proceedings conducted under this appendix, when such proceedings involve a preschool child or child. When an infant or toddler is involved, the Military Department responsible under this part for delivering early intervention services shall either provide its own counsel or request counsel from DOHA.
1. Mediation can be initiated by either a parent or, as appropriate, the Military Department concerned or the Section 6 School System to resolve informally a disagreement on the early intervention services for an infant or toddler or the identification, evaluation, educational placement of, or the free appropriate public education provided to, a preschool child or child. The cognizant Military Department, rather than the Section 6 School System, shall participate in mediation involving early intervention services. Mediation shall consist of, but not be limited to, an informal discussion of the differences between the parties in an effort to resolve those differences. The parents and the appropriate school or Military Department officials may attend mediation sessions.
2. Mediation must be conducted, attempted, or refused in writing by a parent of the infant, toddler, preschool child or child whose early intervention or special education services (including related services) are at issue before a request for, or initiation of, a hearing authorized by this appendix. Any request by the Section 6 School System or Military Department for a hearing under this appendix shall state how this requirement has been satisfied. No stigma may be attached to the refusal of a parent to mediate or to an unsuccessful attempt to mediate.
a. Should mediation be refused or otherwise fail to resolve the issues on the provision of early intervention services or a free, appropriate public education to a disabled infant, toddler, preschool child or child or the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of such an individual, the parent or either the school principal, on behalf of the Section 6 School System, or the military medical treatment facility commander, on behalf of the Military Department having jurisdiction over the infant or toddler, may request and shall receive a hearing before a hearing officer to resolve the matter. The parents of an infant, toddler, preschool child or child and the Section 6 School System or Military Department concerned shall be the only parties to a hearing conducted under this appendix.
b. The party seeking the hearing shall submit a written request, in the form of a petition, setting forth the facts, issues, and proposed relief, to the Director, DOHA. The petitioner shall deliver a copy of the petition to the opposing party (that is, the parent or the school principal, on behalf of the Section 6 School System, or the military medical treatment facility commander, on behalf of the Military Department), either in person or by first-class mail, postage prepaid. Delivery is complete upon mailing. When the Section 6 School System or Military Department petitions for a hearing, it shall inform the other parties of the deadline for filing an answer under paragraph D.1.c. of this appendix, and shall provide the other parties with a copy of this part.
c. An opposing party shall submit an answer to the petition to the Director, DOHA, with a copy to the petitioner, within 15 calendar days of receipt of the petition. The answer shall be as full and complete as possible, addressing the issues, facts, and proposed relief. The submission of the answer is complete upon mailing.
d. Within 10 calendar days after receiving the petition, the Director, DOHA, shall assign a hearing officer, who then shall have jurisdiction over the resulting proceedings. The Director, DOHA, shall forward all pleadings to the hearing officer.
e. The questions for adjudication shall be based on the petition and the answer, provided that a party may amend a pleading if the amendment is filed with the hearing officer and is received by the other parties at least 5 calendar days before the hearing.
f. The Director, DOHA, shall arrange for the time and place of the hearing, and shall provide administrative support. Such arrangements shall be reasonably convenient to the parties.
g. The purpose of a hearing is to establish the relevant facts necessary for the hearing officer to reach a fair and impartial determination of the case. Oral and documentary evidence that is relevant and material may be received. The technical rules of evidence shall be relaxed to permit the development of a full evidentiary record, with the Federal Rules of Evidence (28 U.S.C.) serving as a guide.
h. The hearing officer shall be the presiding officer, with judicial powers to manage the proceeding and conduct the hearing. Those powers shall include the authority to order an independent evaluation of the child at the expense of the Section 6 School System or Military Department concerned and to call and question witnesses.
i. Those normally authorized to attend a hearing shall be the parents of the individual with disabilities, the counsel and personal representative of the parents, the counsel and professional employees of the Section 6 School System or Military Department concerned, the hearing officer, and a person qualified to transcribe or record the proceedings. The hearing officer may permit other persons to attend the hearing, consistent with the privacy interests of the parents and the individual with disabilities, provided the parents have the right to an open hearing upon waiving in writing their privacy rights and those of the individual with disabilities.
j. A verbatim transcription of the hearing shall be made in written or electronic form and shall become a permanent part of the record. A copy of the written transcript or electronic record of the hearing shall be made available to a parent upon request and without cost. The hearing officer may allow corrections to the written transcript or electronic recording for the purpose of conforming it to actual testimony after adequate notice of such changes is given to all parties.
k. The hearing officer's decision of the case shall be based on the record, which shall include the petition, the answer, the written transcript or the electronic recording of the hearing, exhibits admitted into evidence, pleadings or correspondence properly filed and served on all parties, and such other matters as the hearing officer may include in the record, provided that such matter is made available to all parties before the record is closed under paragraph D.1.m. of this appendix.
l. The hearing officer shall make a full and complete record of a case presented for adjudication.
m. The hearing officer shall decide when the record in a case is closed.
n. The hearing officer shall issue findings of fact and render a decision in a case not later than 50 calendar days after being assigned to the case, unless a discovery request under section D.2. of this appendix is pending.
a. Full and complete discovery shall be available to parties to the proceeding, with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (28 U.S.C.) serving as a guide.
b. If voluntary discovery cannot be accomplished, a party seeking discovery may file a motion to accomplish discovery, provided such motion is founded on the relevance and materiality of the proposed discovery to the issues. An order granting discovery shall be enforceable as is an order compelling testimony or the production of evidence.
c. A copy of the written or electronic transcription of a deposition taken by the Section 6 School System or Military Department concerned shall be made available free of charge to a parent.
a. All witnesses testifying at the hearing shall be advised that it is a criminal offense knowingly and willfully to make a false statement or representation to a Department or Agency of the United States Government as to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Department or Agency. All witnesses shall be subject to cross-examination by the parties.
b. A party calling a witness shall bear the witness' travel and incidental expenses associated with testifying at the hearing. The Section 6 School System or Military Department concerned shall pay such expenses when a witness is called by the hearing officer.
c. The hearing officer may issue an order compelling the attendance of witnesses or the production of evidence upon the hearing officer's own motion or, if good cause be shown, upon motion of a party.
d. When the hearing officer determines that a person has failed to obey an order to testify or to produce evidence, and such failure is in knowing and willful disregard of the order, the hearing officer shall so certify.
e. The party or the hearing officer seeking to compel testimony or the production of evidence may, upon the certification provided for in paragraph D.3.d. of the section, file an appropriate action in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with the hearing officer's order.
a. The hearing officer shall make written findings of fact and shall issue a decision setting forth the questions presented, the resolution of those questions, and the rationale for the resolution. The hearing officer shall file the findings of fact and decision with the Director, DOHA, with a copy to the parties.
b. The Director, DOHA, shall forward to the Director, Section 6 Schools or the Military Department concerned and the Domestic Advisory Panel copies, with all personally identifiable information deleted, of the hearing officer's findings of fact and decision or, in cases that are administratively appealed, of the final decision of the DOHA Appeal Board.
c. The hearing officer shall have the authority to impose financial responsibility for early intervention services, educational placements, evaluations, and related services under his or her findings of fact and decision.
d. The findings of fact and decision of the hearing officer shall become final unless a notice of appeal is filed under section F.1. of this appendix. The Section 6 School System or Military Department concerned shall implement a decision as soon as practicable after it becomes final.
1. At the request of a parent of the infant, toddler, preschool child or child when early intervention or special educational (including related) services are at issue, the requirement for a hearing may be waived, and the case may be submitted to the hearing officer on written documents filed by the parties. The hearing officer shall make findings of fact and issue a decision within the period fixed by paragraph D.1.n. of this appendix.
2. The Section 6 School System or Military Department concerned may oppose a request to waive the hearing. In that event, the hearing officer shall rule on the request.
3. Documents submitted to the hearing officer in a case determined without a hearing shall comply with paragraph D.1.g. of this appendix. A party submitting such documents shall provide copies to all other parties.
1. A party may appeal the hearing officer's findings of fact and decision by filing a written notice of appeal with the Director, DOHA, within 5 calendar days of receipt of the findings of fact and decision. The notice of appeal must contain the appellant's certification that a copy of the notice of appeal has been provided to all other parties. Filing is complete upon mailing.
2. Within 10 calendar days of the filing the notice of appeal, the appellant shall submit a written statement of issues and arguments to the Director, DOHA, with a copy to the other parties. The other parties shall submit a reply or replies to the Director, DOHA, within 15 calendar days of receiving the statement, and shall deliver a copy of each reply to the appellant. Submission is complete upon mailing.
3. The Director, DOHA, shall refer the matter on appeal to the DOHA Appeal Board. It shall determine the matter, including the making of interlocutory rulings, within 60 calendar days of receiving timely submitted replies under section F.2. of this appendix. The DOHA Appeal Board may require oral argument at a time and place reasonable convenient to the parties.
4. The determination of the DOHA Appeal Board shall be a final administrative decision and shall be in written form. It shall address the issues presented and set forth a rationale for the decision reached. A determination denying the appeal of a parent in whole or in part shall state that the parent has the right under Pub. L. 101-476, as amended, to bring a civil action on the matters in dispute in a district court of the United States without regard to the amount in controversy.
5. No provision of this part or other DoD guidance may be construed as conferring a further right of administrative review. A party must exhaust all administrative remedies afforded by this appendix before seeking judicial review of a determination made under this appendix.
The Director, DOHA, shall ensure that final decisions in cases arising under this Appendix are published and indexed to protect the privacy rights of the parents who are parties in those cases and the children of such parents, in accordance with 32 CFR part 310.