Impartial Hearings

If you have a child with a disability and you do not believe they received a free and appropriate public education or reasonable accommodations, you have due process rights. These include the right to:

  • mediation
  • request an impartial hearing

Find out about requesting mediation.

What happens at an impartial hearing?

At an impartial hearing, a hearing officer listens to both sides and decides:

  • what, if anything, went wrong, and
  • how to fix it.

Hearing officers are NY State-licensed attorneys. It is a good idea to keep track of all your communication (meetings, emails, letters, phone calls) with all NYC Department of Education (DOE) staff.

To Request an Impartial Hearing

You can request a hearing in writing by mailing a letter (or an email) that includes:

  • Your child's full name and the address where your child lives
  • Your child’s ID number (you can find this on their report card)
  • Your child’s birth date
  • The name of the school your child attends
  • Your name and contact information, including email
  • Your description of the problem, with as many facts as you know
  • The solution you want the DOE to provide

During the period of school closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic, send this information by email to:

  • The Impartial Hearing Office, at IHOQuest@schools.nyc.gov; and 
  • NY State Education Department, at speced@nysed.gov (or, if sending a paper copy is more convenient, that can be submitted to NY State Education Department, P-12 Office of Special Education, 89 Washington Avenue – Room 309EB, Albany, NY 12234). 

Please keep the email for your own records.

You can use the following form to help you write your request, but it is not required. This completed form should be attached to the email to IHOQuest@schools.nyc.gov and speced@nysed.gov

Resolution Meeting

If you request an impartial hearing, DOE staff will contact you to schedule a meeting about the issues in your complaint. This meeting is called the “Resolution Meeting.” This is an opportunity to discuss your complaint and reach an agreement. If you do not reach agreement on any or all of the issues in your complaint, a hearing will be held.

You may request mediation instead of a resolution meeting.

For More Information

Implementation of an Impartial Hearing Order

If you receive an impartial hearing order, the 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 Implementation Unit’s page 

Important Notice for Parents with Pending Due Process Complaints

Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of New York City Families Experiencing Delays in Getting Decisions on Special Education Due Process Complaints at the New York City Impartial Hearing Office

  • If the hearing or decision on your special education due process complaint has been delayed without your consent, this case is about you.
  • Read and print the PDF of this notice.

You can speak with a lawyer for FREE about due process complaint delays by calling 212-946-0352 or emailing JSM@nylag.org.

Several New York City families awaiting due process hearing decisions have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the New York City Department of Education and the New York State Education Department (the “Defendants”), on behalf of themselves and similar New York City families. The law requires that hearings and final decisions happen on due process complaints within a short period of time—usually 75 days, excluding extensions granted by the hearing officer based on applicable regulations.

The Court has certified a class in this case. This means the Court agreed that, at this time, all New York City students and their parents whose due process complaints have not been decided yet and who have been waiting for longer than the time provided by law can be represented as a group. The Court also appointed lawyers to represent you and other families in the class action free of charge. These lawyers are the New York Legal Assistance Group (“NYLAG”) and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

You do not have to take any steps in response to this notice. The case will go forward, and lawyers for the class will continue to seek help for you and other families in the class, even if you do nothing at all. This notice is to inform you about the case and give you information about how to contact the lawyers representing the class.

If you would like to speak with a NYLAG or Sullivan & Cromwell attorney to learn more about the case, tell them about your experience, or ask for help, call 212-946-0352 and leave a message or email JSM@nylag.org. Someone will get back to you.

More Information About the Lawsuit

The lawsuit, which is called JSM v. New York City Department of Education, No. 20-cv-705 (E.D.N.Y.), alleges that the Defendants allow delays to occur in resolving due process complaints pending at the New York City Impartial Hearing Office, in violation of federal and state law. The lawsuit also alleges that as of January 2020, families were waiting an average of 259 days to have their complaints resolved, leaving some children with disabilities without adequate special educational services. The Defendants deny these allegations.

The lawsuit asks the Court to require the Defendants to provide hearing decisions on time. The lawsuit does not seek money damages for children and their families. The Court has not yet decided if the Defendants have violated the law.

The Court-certified class is defined as:

Individuals who file or have filed due process complaints, and the children on whose behalf due process complaints are filed, when due process complaints are unresolved and the decisions of such complaints have not been timely provided under applicable federal and New York state law.

Students with disabilities and their parents/guardians are part of the class if they filed a due process complaint against the New York City Department of Education and that complaint is still pending at the New York City Impartial Hearing Office for more than 45 days after the “resolution period” has ended, excluding certain extensions. Ordinarily, the resolution period is a 30-day window that the Department of Education has to try to resolve the issues raised in a due process complaint. So, in most cases, a family whose due process complaint has still not been settled, withdrawn, or decided within 75 days of it being filed, is part of the class (unless an Impartial Hearing Officer has granted a extension of time based on applicable regulations).

More Information About the Lawyers in this Case

The New York Legal Assistance Group is a nonprofit legal service organization with substantial experience litigating the rights of people with disabilities and students entitled to special education services. Sullivan & Cromwell is an international law firm with considerable experience in complex and class action litigation in federal courts. NYLAG and Sullivan & Cromwell represent everyone in the class for free in this case, including you. You do not have to do anything to have NYLAG and Sullivan & Cromwell continue to represent you in this case as part of the class. If the class action results in relief for families because of NYLAG and Sullivan & Cromwell’s work, the Court may direct the Defendants to pay their fees and costs. You will not ever have to pay NYLAG or Sullivan & Cromwell.

NYLAG & Sullivan & Cromwell represent everyone in the class in this case. But NYLAG and Sullivan & Cromwell do not represent you in your due process complaint proceeding itself. This means that if you had a lawyer for your due process complaint before, that person is still your lawyer, and if you did not have a lawyer for that proceeding, you still do not have a lawyer for it.

If you want more information about the case or to see papers filed in the case, you can visit NYLAG’s website, at www.nylag.org/JSM.

Important Notice for Parents of Children with IEPs who received Impartial Hearing Orders

Parents of children with Individualized Education Programs who received or who may receive an order at the conclusion of an impartial hearing should read the attached notice about possible disclosure of information and documents about their children as part of a federal court litigation.

Translations in Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Urdu are available on the DOE webpage at https://www.schools.nyc.gov/learning/special-education/help/impartial-hearings

Notice of Potential Disclosure of Student Education Records

Please read this notice carefully . This is a message about possible disclosure of documents or data that might contain information about your child, if your child has been classified as a student with a disability and has been or may be the subject of a final Impartial Hearing Order.

Nature of the Lawsuit

This lawsuit challenged the failure of the Department of Education (“DOE”) of the City of New York to timely implement orders issued by impartial hearing officers in connection with impartial hearings held pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq. and N.Y. Education Law § 4401, et seq. In 2007, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Settlement (the “Stipulation”) in which the DOE agreed to timely implement these orders.

In January 2021, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for the appointment of a special master. On April 14, 2021, the Court entered an Order appointing David Irwin of Thru-Ed as the Special Master. On May 14, 2021, the Court entered an Order detailing the duties and authority of the Special Master which include, among other things, the authority to review DOE’s processes for implementing impartial hearing orders and to recommend to the Court improvements to enable DOE to timely implement orders a. Pursuant to this Order, the Special Master may have access to education records of students, upon DOE’s compliance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 C.F.R. Part 99) (“FERPA”).

Data Ordered to Be Disclosed

In order for the Special Master to perform his duties, the Court has directed the DOE to provide the Special Master (and employees and consultants at Thru-Ed) with access to records containing confidential student record information, including, but not limited to, documents submitted in the impartial hearing process, impartial hearing orders, data about compliance, and students’ special education documents, such as individualized education programs, evaluations, authorizations, invoices, etc. The Special Master is required to keep any student documents and information confidential. No student-specific information will be shared with plaintiffs’ counsel unless the student’s parent specifically consents. If there is any student-specific information in the Special Master’s reports to the Court, that information would not be made public.

The Special Master will use this information only for his work to review DOE’s processes for implementing impartial hearing orders and to recommend to the Court improvements to enable DOE to timely implement orders. The disclosure of this information does not affect any of your rights as a parent to seek special education services for your child. 

Objections to Disclosure

If you agree to the disclosure of this information to the Special Master, you do not need to do anything more.

If you do not want your child’s information shared with the Special Master, you must object to this disclosure by submitting an objection to DOE’s attorney, addressed to:

Jeffrey S. Dantowitz
NYC Law Department
100 Church Street, Room 2-121
New York NY 10007

or via email at LVObjection@law.nyc.gov. Please reference the LV v. DOE lawsuit (Case No. 03-9917) when writing. An Objection Form accompanies this Notice, though no written objection will be rejected if it is not submitted on this form. If you object, no records containing you and your child’s personally identifiable information or other FERPA-protected information will be provided to the Special Master, although nominal and incidental disclosure of your child’s name may occur. Any objections must be received by December 3, 2021 or for impartial hearing orders issued after November 12, 2021, within 3 weeks of the issuance of the impartial hearing order.

If you would like more information about this notice, please contact the attorneys for plaintiffs, Rebecca Shore, of Advocates for Children of New York, Inc. at646-532-6078.

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