After an extensive interview and hiring process, the Connecticut State Department of Education (“CSDE”), Bureau of Special Education, released last week the list of new mediators and current due process hearing officers. The hiring of new mediators was prompted by a directive from the Office of Special Education Programs (“OSEP”) that mediators used pursuant to the procedures required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) not be employees of the CSDE. Thus, the list of mediators includes ten individuals, all of whom are independent contractors with the CSDE and new to the role of special education mediator. The new mediators have been transitioning into their roles during the summer months; as of September 1, 2017, CSDE employees will no longer be conducting mediations.
The CSDE also issued a new mediation request form with the list of new mediators. While parties must consent to mediation under the IDEA, parties are no longer required to submit mutually agreeable dates, as mediators will coordinate the dates for mediation. Parties to mediation are being asked to submit a statement of the issues for mediation and a proposed resolution for each case. Mediation request forms should continue to be submitted through the CSDE, which will then assign a mediator.
The new list of due process hearing officers, which was released on the same date, includes fourteen individuals, nine of whom are new to the position. In accordance with the IDEA, due process hearing officers may not be employed by the CSDE and must, among other things, possess knowledge of special education law and the ability to conduct administrative hearings.
Details about the new process for requesting mediations and the due process hearing officer list can be accessed on the CSDE’s Bureau Bulletin.