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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Agreement review period (new Sec. 300.510(e)) (proposed Sec. 300.510(d))

Comment: Many commenters recommended including language in the regulations to ensure that parents are informed orally and in writing that either party to a resolution agreement may reconsider and void the resolution agreement within three business days. One commenter expressed concern that some parents lack the education or legal expertise of school districts, and will miss this important right unless informed both orally and in writing. A few commenters stated that this notice must be provided to parents in their native language or primary mode of communication.

Discussion: Section 300.504(a), consistent with section 615(d)(1)(A) of the Act, requires a public agency to provide parents with a copy of the procedural safeguards notice at least one time in a school year and under the exceptional circumstances specified in Sec. 300.504(a), which includes the first occurrence of the filing of a due process complaint in a school year. The procedural safeguards notice, which must be written in language understandable to the general public and in the native language of the parent, unless clearly not feasible to do so, must include a full explanation of the Act's procedural safeguards. If the native language or other mode of communication of the parent is not a written language, Sec. 300.503(c)(2) requires the public agency to take steps to ensure that the notice is translated orally or by other means for the parent in his or her native language or other mode of communication and that the parent understands the content of the notice. Under Sec. 300.504(c)(5)(ii), the notice must inform parents about the opportunity to present and resolve a due process complaint in accordance with the resolution process required in Sec. 300.510 and section 615(f)(1)(B) of the Act, including a party's right to void the resolution agreement within three business days of execution. We believe it would be overly burdensome to require public agencies to provide the procedural safeguards notice both orally and in writing to an individual parent, and, therefore, decline to change the regulation.

Changes: None.

Comment: Several commenters recommended that the regulations clarify whether discussions during the resolution meeting remain confidential.

Discussion: We decline to regulate on this matter because the Act is silent regarding the confidentiality of resolution discussions. However, there is nothing in the Act or these regulations that would prohibit the parties from entering into a confidentiality agreement as part of their resolution agreement. A State could not, however, require that the participants in a resolution meeting keep the discussions confidential or make a confidentiality agreement a condition of a parent's participation in the resolution meeting.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter recommended that the regulations require each SEA to develop a model settlement agreement form with appropriate release language, a withdrawal form to be filed with the hearing officer, and a confidentiality agreement.

Discussion: The terms of settlement agreements will necessarily vary based on numerous factors, including the nature of the dispute and the specific resolution agreed to by the parties involved. Therefore, we do not believe it is practical or useful to require SEAs to develop a model settlement agreement form.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters recommended that the regulations define "days" in this section to mean "business days."

Discussion: Under Sec. 300.11(a), day means calendar day, unless otherwise indicated as a business day or school day. All references to day in Sec. 300.510 are calendar days, except for new Sec. 300.510(e) (proposed Sec. 300.510(d)), which specifies that the parties may void a resolution agreement within three business days of the agreement's execution.

Changes: None.