Skip to main content

Special Education - Rights and Dispute Resolution Process

Legal Information
Disabled child in wheelchair

This section of PALawHelp.org has information and resources about Special Education - Rights and Dispute Resolution Process in Pennsylvania.

Click on a resource category listed below to see information related to that category.

Mediation (Special Education)

Even when parents and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur. If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent the right to a due process hearing. Information on the Mediation process from the Office of Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Special Education Due Process Complaint Process and Forms

Information on the complaint process, including the Complaint Form, which is used to submit a formal complaint to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. Office for Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Educational Rights of Children with Special Needs

Consumer information pamphlet from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. [PDF] (August 2013)

Education Rights for Mentally Gifted Students

Consumer Legal Information Pamphlet from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. (September 2014)

Education Rights for Students with Disabilities

Consumer Legal Information Pamphlet from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. (September 2014)

Rights of Gifted/Handicapped/Special Education Children

Information from the Erie County Bar Association on the rights of students who are gifted, handicapped or in a Special Education program. (April 2018)

School Discipline in Pennsylvania

Information from the Education Law Center - Pennsylvania on school discipline issues, including special considerations relating to students with disabilities and other special student populations. (March 2016)

Children with Disabilities who are Bullied or Harassed at School

Information on some options available when your child With disabilities is being harassed by other students.

Education Law Center

The Education Law Center is a non-profit legal advocacy and educational organization, dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania's children have access to a quality public education.

The Right to Special Education In Pennsylvania: A Guide for Parents and Advocates [PDF]

This Guide describes the legal rules that govern the special education and early intervention programs in Pennsylvania for children from age three until schooling ends. (2021)

Mediation (Special Education)

Even when parents and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur. If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent the right to a due process hearing. Information on the Mediation process from the Office of Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Special Education Due Process Complaint Process and Forms

Information on the complaint process, including the Complaint Form, which is used to submit a formal complaint to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. Office for Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Special Education Timelines

This booklet cites the special education timelines in accordance with the requirements of Pennsylvania law, Chapter 711 Charter School and Cyber Charter School Services and Programs for Children with Disabilities, Chapter 14 Special Education Services and Programs and Federal Regulations Part 300, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (May 2018)

The Special Education ConsultLine

Information on The Special Education ConsultLine, a a toll-free information line established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for your questions and concerns: 1-800-879-2301. ConsultLine is designed to assist parents and advocates of children with disabilities or children thought to be disabled. ConsultLine provides information about school-related concerns, special education regulations, procedural safeguards, and parents’ rights.

IEP Facilitation

IEP facilitation is a voluntary process that can be used when all parties to an IEP meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would help facilitate communication and the successful drafting of the student’s IEP. The Office for Dispute Resolution (Special Education) offers information on how the process works.

Parents’ Rights: Understanding the Procedural Safeguards Notice

Parents of children who receive or who may be eligible for special education services have rights under a law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This brochure provides a summary of those rights. The Procedural Safeguards Notice provides a more detailed explanation of those rights.

Approved Private Schools for Special Education and Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

Information on requirements for Approved Private for Special Education and Schools for the Deaf and the Blind from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Educational Programs for Students in Non-Educational Placements

School-age children are sometimes placed in residential programs for reasons not related to the child's educational needs, for example, under the auspices of a county Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities (MH/ID) program agency, children and youth agency, or through a local court. This Basic Education Circular discusses the obligations of school districts to educate students with disabilities who reside in residential facilities within the school districts' boundaries.

Extended School Year Services in Pennsylvania

Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services that are provided to students with disabilities beyond the 180-day school year. This guide contains a comprehensive compilation of documents that will provide direction, respond to questions, and guide parents and local education agencies in making determinations about ESY services.

Accessible Instructional Materials for Children with Disabilities

Information from the Disability Rights Pennsylvania on the availability of Accessible Instructional Materials for children with disabilities. [PDF]

Should I Graduate This Year? A Guide for Students and Their Families

Disability Rights Pennsylvania provides information on graduation requirements for students receiving Special Education at school under the guidance of an IEP Team. This guide was created to answer some questions about graduation and provide a general sense of what your legal rights are.

Transition to Adulthood - A guide for transition age individuals with disabilities and their families

The Disability Rights Pennsylvania provides information on transition services providing skills the student needs to learn to be prepared for his or her adult life. [PDF]

Eight Common Myths About Special Education Laws

Discussion of commonly-held myths about Special Education Laws. (March 2015)

Transportation for Students with Disabilities in Pennsylvania

Information on transportation options for students with disabilities in Pennsylvania from the PA School Bus Association. (2020)

Back to top