Educational Support

Dispute Resolution

The Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) provides options for resolving disputes about a student’s educational program.

These options include:

  • Requesting an informal meeting with the district to discuss your concerns. The district must schedule a team meeting upon parent request.  Parents may bring advocates or other individuals who are familiar with the student’s needs. 
  • IEP Facilitation. Parents or school officials may ask ODR to provide an IEP Facilitator at no cost. The facilitator is a neutral third party, much like a mediator, who guides the discussion in a constructive manner and resolves conflicts that may arise.
  • Requesting “mediation” or “due process.” 

    • Mediation is a quick, informal method of resolving disputes when the school district and the parents disagree about a program or placement.  If you request mediation, ODR will assign a neutral third party, at no cost to you. In Pennsylvania, lawyers are currently not allowed to attend special education mediation sessions, but parents may bring an advocate.
    • A Due Process hearing is presided over by a Hearing Officer, appointed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. A due process hearing is intended to resolve disputes regarding identification, evaluation, program, or placement of a student. Hearing officers render binding decisions after hearing evidence from all parties. Generally, a parent must request a hearing within two years of learning about the action that is in dispute. Parents have a right to bring an attorney, but are not required to do so.

Full explanations of these options can be found at:

Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) 
412-826-2336 or 800-446-5607

Education Law Center-Pennsylvania
“Procedural Safeguards--Options for Resolving Disputes between Parents and School Districts”

The options are also explained on the Notice of Recommended Placement/Prior Written Notice (NOREP/PWN) form that parents receive after an IEP is completed.