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Due Process Hearings

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 (Section 504) are federal laws. IDEA ensures that students with disabilities get appropriate special education services. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against students or parents with disabilities.

When a parent and school district disagree about the rights of a student or parent under these laws, impartial due process hearings are a way to resolve the dispute.

Your Rights

At a hearing, you have the right to:

  • present evidence and have witnesses attend and testify,
  • question and cross-examine the District’s witnesses,
  • get a written transcript of the hearing at no cost,
  • have the Student present,
  • have the hearing open to the public, and
  • represent yourself or hire an attorney or advocate to represent you.

Requesting a Hearing

A parent or school district may request a due process hearing. To request a due process hearing, you must file a Due Process Complaint (DPC) with the New York City Department of Education (DOE). Information about how to file a DPC is on the DOE’s Impartial Hearings page.

The DPC should explain the problem (or what the DOE did incorrectly) and propose how the DOE should fix the problem.

What Happens at Hearing?

After a case is filed, it will be assigned to an impartial hearing officer (IHO). IHOs are attorneys certified by the State Education Department. The IHO will hold a hearing to listen to both sides to decide what, if anything, went wrong and how to fix it.

An impartial due process hearing is like a courtroom trial but less formal. Hearings are usually held by videoconference and closed to the public. You may also choose to have an in-person hearing or a hearing that is open to the public.

At the hearing, each side:

  • Will have a chance to make opening statements.
  • Can present evidence. This can include documents, videos, or any other materials. Each party must disclose their evidence to the other side before the hearing.
  • Can bring witnesses and ask questions of the other side’s witnesses. Witnesses may testify by videoconference or phone.
  • May make closing arguments.

Later, the parties will get a written record of everything that was said at the hearing.

Check out the SEHD Impartial Due Process Hearing Overview for more details about what to expect when your case is assigned to an IHO from OATH.


After the hearing, the IHO will write a decision. Decisions include findings of fact and conclusions of law. The Decision may also include an order directing the DOE to take certain action or provide other relief for the student. Decisions are binding and can be enforced in State or Federal court. Decisions are confidential and only provided to the parent and the DOE. If a party disagrees with the IHO, the decision can be appealed to the State Education Department’s Office of State Review.

Implementing an Order

If you receive a decision containing an order, the DOE’s Impartial Hearing Order Implementation Unit will work with you or your advocate to make sure the DOE follows the order.
For more information, visit the DOE Implementation Unit’s page.

More Information

To learn more about the hearing process, visit