How do Education matters come to MAHS?

  • Special Education: Federal law permits parents of children with a disability to request an administrative hearing under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) 20 USC 1400 et seq. A parent has the right to request a Due Process Hearing on any matter related to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of their child or the provision of a free an appropriate public education for their child

    Teacher Tenure: Tenured Teachers have the right to contest a controlling board’s determination to dismiss or demote the teacher under the Teachers’ Tenure Act, MCL 38.71 et seq. A teacher must file an appeal with the Tenure Commission within 20 days of the controlling board’s actions. These administrative hearings are conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. 

    Teacher Certification: The Revised School Code, MCL 380.1531 et seq. provides the requirements for the State of Michigan Department of Education to issue licenses and certificates for teachers as well as the provisions for the revocation or suspension of any teaching certificates.

    Property Transfers: The Michigan Revised School Code provides the procedures for transferring a parcel of property from one school district to another contiguous school district. An action to transfer property is generally initiated by filing a petition with an intermediate school district. If a property owner or group of property owners are not satisfied with the decision of the intermediate school district board of education, the property owner may file an appeal with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The administrative appeal hearing is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. 

    School Nutrition Programs: Pursuant to the National School Lunch Act, 42 USC 1751, the Department of Education operates a Child and Adult Food Care Program and a Summer Food Service Program. Programs are entitled to a hearing to appeal actions of the Michigan Department of Education. These hearings are conducted in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations. Unless a Program specifically requests an in-person hearing, the hearing is limited to a file review. The file review is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. 

    MDE Audit Matters: Aggrieved school districts have the right to appeal audit determinations of the Department of Education pursuant to the General Provisions Concerning Education, 20 USC 1231 et seq. The administrative hearing is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge.

    Special Education Plan Objections: Any constituent local school district, public school academy or parent advisory committee may file objections with the intermediate school district to an approved intermediate school district plan pursuant to the Revised School Code, MCL 380.1711 and Michigan Administrative Rules 340.1836. After an objection is file, an ALJ holds an administrative hearing.

What types of Education hearings does MAHS hold?

  • Special Education: Administrative hearings are conducted by a specially trained Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). After a hearing, the ALJ issues a final administrative decision. This decision may be appealed to the United States District Court or the Circuit Court where the child resides. 

    Teacher Tenure: Administrative hearings are conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. The ALJ issues a Preliminary Decision and Order of the Administrative Law Judge. 

    Teacher Certification: An individual teacher has the right to a hearing concerning any action to suspend or revoke their teaching certificate. In addition, if a teaching certificate has been revoked or suspended, a teacher may request a hearing for reinstatement of their teaching certificate. These hearings are conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. 

    Property Transfers: The administrative appeal hearing is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge.  This is not a contested case under the Administrative Procedures Act, MCL 24.201 et seq. However, the hearing format provides due process for the participants. The parties do have the right to be represented by counsel and to call witnesses.

    School Nutrition Programs: Unless a Program specifically requests an in-person hearing, the hearing is limited to a file review. The file review is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. The Program does have the right to submit written documentation or exhibits to support their position. Upon request for an in-person hearing, an Administrative Law Judge conducts a hearing. The parties have a right to be represented by counsel, to submit exhibits, and to question witnesses.

    MDE Audit Matters: The administrative hearing is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge. The parties have the right to be represented by counsel.

    Special Education Plan Objections: After an objection is file, an ALJ holds an administrative hearing.

What authority does MAHS have in this process?

  • Special Education: After a hearing, the ALJ issues a final administrative decision. This decision may be appealed to the United States District Court or the Circuit Court where the child resides. 

    Teacher Tenure: The parties have 20 days in which to file any objection to the Preliminary Decision. After the expiration of the 20 days, the Tenure Commission will review the Preliminary Decision and any filed objections and enter a final judgment. The final judgment can be appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals. If neither party files any objections, the Preliminary Decision of the Administrative Law Judge becomes the final decision. 

    Teacher Certification: After an administrative hearing, the ALJ issues a Proposal for Decision to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. A party has 20 days after the issuance of the Proposal for Decision to file any written exceptions to the Proposal for Decision. A party has 10 days after service of any exceptions to file any cross exceptions and briefs. The rules also provide that if a party wishes to present oral arguments to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, they must file a written request at the time of filing an exception, cross exception, or brief.  R 390.1214.

    Property Transfers: After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge issues a written proposal for decision to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The parties have 20 days from the date of the proposal for decision to file any written objections to the Proposed Decision. 

    School Nutrition Programs: Upon request for an in-person hearing, an Administrative Law Judge conducts a hearing. The parties have a right to be represented by counsel, to submit exhibits, and to question witnesses. After the hearing, the ALJ issues a written Final Administrative Decision.

    MDE Audit Matters: The Administrative Law Judge issues the final administrative decision in this matter. An appeal from the ALJ’s decision may be filed with the U.S. Secretary of Education.

    Special Education Plan Objections: The ALJ issues a Proposal for Decision for the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The parties have 20 days in which to file any exceptions to the Proposal for Decision.

FAQs

  • Q. Who will conduct Special Education due process hearings?

    A. The individuals assigned to act as the decision-makers in Special Education hearings administered by MAHS are Administrative Law Judges (ALJ). They are:

    1. Attorneys in good standing in the State Bar of Michigan.

    2. Full time employees of MAHS.As employees of MAHS, they are not permitted to have any outside employment that might conflict with their responsibility to be impartial.

    3. Specially trained to be knowledgeable about special education.

    4. Administrative Law Judges are governed by the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

  • Q. What is the function of the Administrative Law Judge?

    A: The ALJ controls the processing of the case. He or she will direct the parties to take necessary actions to prepare for the hearing, to ensure fair and efficient presentations at the hearing and in any post-hearing activities.

    The ALJ considers the parties’ claims and defenses and conducts hearings to hear and review the parties’ evidence and arguments to ensure full and fair presentation of the relevant evidence. The ALJ then writes a decision that resolves the disputed factual and legal issues.

    The ALJ has power to fashion appropriate relief needed to either control the process and, if the alleged errors are substantiated, to order a remedy addressing the underlying problem. The ALJ’s decision completes the administrative hearing process.

  • Q. What is required or expected of the parties, their representatives and their advisors?

    A: The participants are all expected to act respectfully throughout the process. First, all participants should keep in mind that the parents, the child, and the district employees will likely continue to interact with one another after the hearing is over and the decision is rendered. Second, legal disputes are stressful to the participants. To reduce any harmful impact on future relationships between the parent, child and school staff, all participants, including parties’ agents, representatives and employees, must act promptly and in good faith to fulfill any required activities and to interact with other participants with patience and respect.

  • Q. What can be filed as a Due Process Complaint?

    A: A Due Process Complaint can be filed for any matter relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with a disability, or the provision of FAPE to the child. 34 CFR 300.507

  • Q. Who can file a Due Process Complaint?

    A: Only parents, public agencies, and children who have reached the age of majority may request a due process hearing in accordance with the IDEA due process hearing provisions. 34 CFR 300.507

    A Parent is defined under the regulations as:

    1. A biological or adoptive parent of a child.

    2. A foster parent, unless state law, regulations, or contractual obligations with a state or local entity prohibit a foster parent from acting as a parent.

    3. A guardian generally authorized to act as the child's parent, or authorized to make educational decisions for the child (but not the state if the child is a ward of the state).

    4. An individual acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent (including a grandparent, stepparent, or other relative) with whom the child lives, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child's welfare.

    5. A surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with 34 CFR 300.519 or 20 USC 1439 (a)(5). 34 CFR 300.30

  • Q. What are the steps in the hearing process?

    A: Every case is different. Most commonly, the following events and activities will occur:

    1. After the resolution session activities have been completed without a resolution being reached, the ALJ will assume active management of the dispute. (The ALJ may have a more active role in the resolution time period depending on whether there are concerns about the sufficiency of the due process complaint notice or disputes about the resolution meeting process.)

    2. Before the hearing, the ALJ will schedule a Prehearing Conference (PHC). The purpose of the PHC is to clarify the issues and determine dates for the actual Due Process Hearing as well as the exchange of witness lists and proposed exhibits. A PHC is typically held by telephone conference.

    3. During the PHC, in consultation with the parties and where applicable, the ALJ will:

      • Determine the areas of dispute,

      • Schedule the dates for the Due Process Hearing,

      • Schedule time lines for providing written arguments (briefs),

      • Schedule time lines for exchange of proposed documentary evidence and witness lists.

    4. The parties and their representatives complete the activities needed to prepare for the hearing as specified by the ALJ after the PHC.

    5. If a Motion if filed, a decision will be made on the Motion.

    6. The hearing is held.

    7. If the ALJ determines that written argument is necessary to resolve the issues presented, a schedule for submitting briefs is set out.

    8. The ALJ issues a written decision to the parties.

  • Q. What is a Motion?

    A: A motion is a written request or proposal to the Tribunal to obtain an asked-for order, ruling, or direction. Examples of common motions in Due Process Hearings are:

    1. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction;

    2. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing;

    3. Motion to Dismiss because of the Statute of Limitations;

    4. Motion for a Protective Order.

  • Q. What should I do if a Motion is filed?

    A: If you disagree with the Motion that is filed, you should send a written response within 7 days unless another timeframe is ordered by the ALJ.

    The Administrative Hearing Rules provide that a written response to a motion may be filed within 7 days after service of the written motion unless otherwise ordered by the ALJ or unless other scheduling provisions prevent compliance with this timeline. Admin. Rules R 792.10115

  • Q. What is an Objection to the Sufficiency of the Complaint?

    A: IDEA requires among other things that a Due Process Hearing Complaint include a description of the nature of the problem and a proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known at the time. IDEA provides that an opposing party can object to the sufficiency of the complaint. The purpose of requiring some specificity is to allow the defending party to understand the scope and the nature of the dispute and to prepare a defense to the allegations involved. 

    If the opposing party files an objection to the sufficiency of the complaint, it must be filed within 15 days of the day of the Due Process Hearing Request. Otherwise, the Due Process Hearing Complaint is deemed sufficient. 34 CFR 300.508(d)

    If an objection to the sufficiency of the complaint is filed, the ALJ will make a decision within 5 days based on the face of the complaint. The opposing party is not required to respond to an objection to the sufficiency of a complaint.

    If an ALJ finds that a Due Process Hearing Complaint is insufficient, the ALJ may order the complaining party to file an amended complaint or may dismiss the complaint.

  • Q. What is Evidence?

    A: Evidence can be oral or written. Oral evidence is testimony presented by witnesses during a Due Process Hearing. It is the responsibility of each party to identify the individuals that they will be calling to testify. Each party is responsible for questioning each witness called to testify.

    Written evidence is documents. Common types of documentary evidence presented in a Due Process Hearing are IEPs, various assessments, evaluations, and reports. In order to propose a document as evidence, a Party must provide a copy of the proposed exhibit prior to the hearing. The deadline to provide a proposed exhibit list will be determined during the PHC. 

    Proposed exhibits submitted by the parties in compliance with a PHC Order are NOT evidence until admitted by the ALJ at the Due Process Hearing.

  • Q. What if I disagree with a proposed exhibit?

    A: A Party may object to proposed exhibits presented by the opposing side. The rules of evidence for a nonjury civil case in circuit court are applied in a Due Process Hearing as far as practical. However, in an Administrative Hearing such as a Due Process Hearing, there is a relaxed standard. An ALJ may admit evidence that is commonly relied upon by a reasonable prudent person. MCL 24.275

    Evidence must be relevant to the matter before the ALJ. An ALJ will not admit evidence that is irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious.

    A copy of the Michigan Rules of Evidence can be found on the website of the Michigan Supreme Court or at the following link: http://courts.mi.gov/Courts/MichiganSupremeCourt/rules/Documents/Michigan%20Rules%20of%20Evidence.pdf

  • Q. What will happen at the Due Process Hearing?

    A: Every hearing is different. In general, the participants can normally expect the following:

    1. Each party should arrive a few minutes early to set out their documents and notes in a way that allows them to quickly locate what they need. The parties will need to bring an extra copy of any proposed exhibits for use by witnesses during testimony.

    2. Before the hearing actually begins, matters such as location of bathrooms, operation of the court reporting or recording system or location of the space to sequester[1] witnesses may be addressed.

    3. The ALJ will normally announce that the hearing is beginning. All statements made after that announcement are recorded for the record. The ALJ will make an introductory statement about the case name, the parties and their representatives, etc.

    4. If either party has any preliminary matters to raise, such as requests to sequester witnesses, requests for instructions to witnesses to not discuss their testimony with other witnesses, stipulations of fact or admission of evidence, they are resolved.

    5. The party with the burden of proof, which is usually the party requesting the hearing, may make an opening statement. This is a brief summary of what that party will show through the sworn testimony and exhibits. The opening statement itself is not evidence.

    6. The other party may make an opening statement now or may wait until that party’s case begins to make an opening statement.

    7. The party with the burden of proof calls one witness at a time. The witness is sworn in. The party calling the witness asks questions of the witness. The other party then asks questions of that witness. The ALJ may question the witness as well during or after this process. If necessary, the parties may, in turn, ask additional questions regarding matters raised by the ALJ or by cross examination.

    8. When the party with the burden of proof has completed presenting testimony and evidence, the other party can present an opening statement if the party did not do so earlier. Then, this party begins calling its witnesses. As before, the questioning for cross examination and ALJ questioning proceeds with the parties’ roles reversed.

    9. Witnesses may be called in an order different than the order described above where a variance is helpful to the hearing process or to accommodate the witnesses’ availability.

    10. After all the testimony has been heard, the parties may state orally why they contend that the evidence shows that their claim or defense has been established and the legal precedent that supports their position. This is called closing statements.

    11. The ALJ may permit the parties to submit written argument (briefs) after the hearing to clarify what evidence and legal precedent the parties relies on to establish their claim or defense.

    12. The parent will be provided a verbatim, written or electronic copy of the hearing transcript at no cost. This transcript be available on the day of the hearing. It will be sent to the parent several days after the hearing.

    13. The ALJ writes and issues his or her decision.


    [1]   Sequester means to place witnesses outside the hearing room so that they do not hear other witnesses’ testimony.

  • Q. What is burden of proof?

    A: The burden of proof is the duty placed upon a party to prove or disprove a disputed fact. When a party has the burden of proof, the party must present, through testimony and exhibits, enough evidence to support the claim. In a Due Process Hearing, the burden of proof is on the party that is bringing the claim.

    The burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence for all claims raised in a Due Process matter. A preponderance of evidence has been described as just enough evidence to make it more likely than not that the fact the claimant seeks to prove is true.

  • Q. May a non-lawyer represent a party during a Due Process hearing?

    A: No, a non-lawyer may not act as a party’s legal representative during the hearing. A party may represent him or herself in Special Education administrative hearing. A parent of a minor child is the party in the typical Special Education due process hearing. 

    When a child reaches the age of majority or legal adulthood (18 years of age) and has not been found to be “incompetent” by a court of law, the status of “parent” transfers to the 18-year-old student. It is then the student who is permitted to represent him or her in the administrative hearing.  

    A non-lawyer who is not a party may not question witnesses, raise or respond to objections, or argue points of law. A non-lawyer with special knowledge of special education may assist and advise a party during the hearing, however.

  • Q. What should I do if I do not understand something or have a concern about something that has been said or done by the ALJ or the other party or the other party's legal representative?

    A: You should state your question, concern or complaint as soon as possible after you become aware of the problem, but be sure to do so in the presence of the other party or in writing to the ALJ, with a copy provided to the other side. You should act quickly so that the ALJ is aware of the problem. Making the concern a “matter of record” will help to protect all concerned and to ensure that appropriate review or corrective action, if needed, can occur.

  • Q. Is there any assistance available to help me prepare my case?

    A: There are a number of parent advocacy resources available in Michigan. Consider contacting programs or groups previously identified to you. In addition, support groups’ specific to a variety of disability categories operate in Michigan. These organizations may be able to guide you. 

    The organizations listed below may be able to provide free or low cost legal or other relevant services. 

    Michigan Protection and Advocacy
    4095 Legacy Parkway, Ste. 500
    Lansing, MI 48911-4263
    Primary Voice: 800-288-5923
    Secondary Voice: 517-487-1755
    Fax: 517-487-0827

    The State Bar of Michigan also maintains a program to refer litigants to attorneys in private practice who are willing to represent individuals, possibly on a pro bono basis, involved in complex legal disputes. They can be contacted at:

    State Bar of Michigan
    Administrator, Justice Initiatives Program
    306 Townsend Street
    Lansing, MI 48933-2083
    877-247-8233 ext. 6358
    517-346-6412 or 800-968-1442
    Fax: 517-482-6248

    Other organizations that may be able to provide you non-legal advice and assistance include:

    The ARC of Michigan, Inc.
    Toll Free Phone Number: 800-292-7851

    Citizen’s Alliance to Uphold Special Education (CAUSE)
    6412 Centurion Dr. Suite 130
    Lansing MI 48917
    Toll Free Phone Number: 800-221-9105
    Local Primary Voice Phone: 517-886-9167
    Fax: 517-886-9366
    Primary TTY: 888-814-4013      

    The Michigan Disability Resource Directory
    Email: www.michigan.gov/disabilityresources 
    (This site allows you to search for support group associations and agencies by type of disability as well as by location.)

Commonly Used Documents