Parents or educational agencies may resolve educational disputes regarding gifted education programs through a mechanism called due process. Due process differs from other dispute resolution opportunities in that a Hearing Officer decides the dispute for the parties. Throughout the due process proceedings, resolution through mediation remains available to the parties (see the Mediation section of this site). In addition, during the proceedings the parties may settle some or all of the issues among themselves at any time.
Gifted education is provided under Chapter 16 of the Pennsylvania Code. For parents of gifted students, there is no cost for Gifted due process hearings, mediations, and facilitations except for any costs incurred by parent-invited participants. These costs would be the responsibility of the parent. All procedural costs associated with Gifted due process hearings, mediations, and facilitations are the responsibility of the respective LEA.
Due process hearings are similar to trials, with the Hearing Officer presiding and acting as a judge. An attorney will represent the educational agency. The parent may also be represented by an attorney, or may proceed without counsel. Witnesses are questioned and cross-examined, and evidence is admitted into the record for the Hearing Officer’s consideration. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer issues a written decision, which is a legally enforceable document setting forth the legal obligations of all the parties.