Accessing Assistive Technology Chapter 9 Information on Special Education From a 13-Chapter Manual, Available by Chapter and in Manual Form, First Edition, 1995 (Rev. 8/96) Written by: Protection and Advocacy, Inc. (PAI), Copyright © 1995 by PAI Prepared with funding provided through California Assistive Technology Project supported by funds from the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Dept. of Education, Grant #H224A30008-94. These materials are based on the laws and court decisions in effect at the time of publication. Federal and state law can change at any time. If there is any question about the continued validity of any information in this manual, contact PAI or a legal resource in your community. Protection and Advocacy, Inc. (PAI), is a private, nonprofit organization that protects the legal, civil and service rights of Californians who have disabilities. PAI provides a variety of advocacy services, including information and referral, technical assistance, and direct representation. For information or assistance with an immediate problem, call: PAI -- Toll Free/TDD: (800) 776-5746 -- 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM - Monday through Friday Central Office: 100 Howe Ave., Suite 235-N, Sacramento, CA 95825, Legal Unit - (916) 488-9950, Administrative - (916) 488-9955 Southern California Area Office: 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 902, Los Angeles, CA 90010, Tel. - (213) 427-8747 San Francisco Bay Area Office: 449 - 15th Street, Suite 401, Oakland, CA 94612, Tel. - (510) 839-0811 PAI receives funding under the Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, the Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act, the Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights Act, and the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act. Any opinions, findings, recommendations or conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations which fund PAI. Accessing Assistive Technology Chapter 9 SPECIAL EDUCATION Table of Contents Question 1. What is special education? 2. What are related services? 3. What is assistive technology in special education? 4. Who is eligible to receive assistive technology under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? 5. How can students get assistive technology through the school? 6. Will the school evaluate the need for assistive technology? 7. What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and how does it work? 8. What are the criteria for including assistive technology in an IEP? 9. Who owns assistive technology that is purchased by the school for a special education student? 10. Can the school district require a family to purchase equipment with Medi-Cal or private insurance? 11. Can a student take home equipment that is purchased by the school district? 12. Does the school provide training to use an assistive technology device? 13. Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance of assistive technology devices? 14. Is cost a consideration in whether assistive technology must be provided to a special education student? 15. What if there is a disagreement about the need for or type of assistive technology? 16. How does the hearing process work? 17. What happens to the assistive technology device or service during the hearing process? 18. What factors will the hearing officer look at to determine if a student is entitled to assistive technology? 19. What can a parent do if the school is out of compliance with the law? 20. Are there any dispute resolution procedures other than the compliance complaint and due process mediation and hearing? 21. Can students who do not qualify for special education get assistive technology through the school district? 22. Do school districts receive special funding to provide assistive technology? 23. What is AB 3632/882 and how does it affect assistive technology? 24. Can students receive assistive technology to participate in vocational education? 25. What are early intervention services and how do they affect assistive technology? 26. How can a child obtain assistive technology through Part H? Accessing Assistive Technology Chapter 9 Special Education 1. What is special education? The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. Secs. 1400 and following), enacted in 1975, is the federal law that authorizes special education and related services, including assistive technology. California has also enacted its own statutes which generally parallel the IDEA and provide the basis for providing services in this state. California Education Code (Cal. Ed. Code) Secs. 56000 and following. Special education is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities at no cost to parents. This includes classroom instruction, home instruction, instruction in hospitals and institutions, vocational education, and physical education. 2. What are related services? Related services are supportive services that students require in order to benefit from their special education programs. California calls related services Designated Instruction and Services(DIS). Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56363; 5 Cal. Code Regs. Secs. 3051 and following. It is important to remember that education for children with disabilities includes independent living skills and vocational education, not just academics; therefore a broad range of related services may be required. Assistive technology devices and the services necessary to help a child select, acquire or use an assistive technology device are made available if required as part of the child's special education or related services. 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401(a)(26); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.308. 3. What is assistive technology in special education? Assistive technology in special education refers to any devices or services that are necessary for a child to benefit from special education or related services, or to enable the child to be educated in the least restrictive environment. 34 C.F.R. 300.308. The IDEA uses the definition of assistive technology from the Technology-Related Assistance For Individuals With Disabilities Act (Tech Act) of 1988, which was added to the IDEA in the 1990 amendments to the law. This definition provides: "The term assistive technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities." 20 U.S.C. 1401(a)(25). "The term assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes: the evaluation of the needs of a child with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the child in the child's customary environment; purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by children with disabilities; selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices; coordinating and using other therapies, interventions or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs; training or technical assistance for a child with disabilities or, where appropriate, the family of a child with disabilities; training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities." 20 U.S.C. 1401(a)(26). Assistive technology in special education also includes specialized transportation equipment such as "special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps." 34 C.F.R. 300.16(b)(14). An August 1990 Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) letter interpreted the definition of "related services" to include assistive technology. 16 EHLR 1317 OSEP, 1990(1). The letter emphasized the hallmark of special education law -- that the determination of what constitutes a free, appropriate public education must be made on an individual basis, and any needed services must be included in the student's IEP. Other OSEP policy letters and hearing decisions provide further clarification of the types of assistive services and devices that fall within the scope of IDEA's mandate. Assistive devices that OSEP found to be related services include: Apple IIe computer (In Re Mary H 1984-1985 EHLR 506:325); auditory training equipment (Cleveland Public School District, EHLR 353:307 OCR 1988); computer assistance (Eldon MO R-1 School District EHLR 352:144 OCR 1986); computerized communication system (San Francisco USD 1985-1986 EHLR 507:416); device for loading/unloading students from a bus (Davis USD 18 IDELR 696 1992); a $7,000 liberator communication device (19 IDELR 355 1992); and hearing aids (Seiler 20 IDELR 1216 1993). In addition, a 1992 OSEP letter stated that calculators, tape recorders, and teacher's notes can be considered assistive technology. Lambert 18 IDELR 1039 1992. 4. Who is eligible to receive assistive technology under the IDEA? Children who have disabilities that cause them to need specialized educational services to benefit from education are entitled to receive special education and related services, including assistive technology. Eligible disabilities include but are not limited to sensory (i.e. hearing, visual, or speech/language) or orthopedic impairments, mental retardation, autism, serious emotional disturbance, other health impairments or specific learning disabilities. In addition, children with traumatic brain injuries are eligible for special education under federal law. 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401(1), (15); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.7. California legislation refers to "individuals with exceptional needs." Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56026. Children who meet these criteria who are between the ages of five years and 18 years, inclusive, are eligible for special education. Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56026(c)(3). Individuals between 19 and 21 who are enrolled in or are eligible for special education programs prior to their 19th birthdays, and who have not completed their prescribed courses of study (or who have not met prescribed proficiency standards), are eligible for special education. Children aged three to five years are eligible under the same criteria as school-age children with the addition of one new category, called established medical disability. This medical condition or congenital syndrome must have a high predictability of requiring special education. Infants and toddlers less than three years of age who are developmentally delayed or at risk of such delay, or who have low-incidence disabilities (visual, hearing, or orthopedic impairments and are not otherwise eligible for regional center services) are eligible for early intervention services under PL99-457 (Part H of the IDEA/Cal.Gov.Code U.S.C. 95000 and following). Regional centers are the responsible lead agencies for infants and toddlers who are developmentally delayed or at risk of delay; local education agencies have responsibility for those who have solely low-incidence disabilities. (See questions 24 and 25 for assistive technology for infants and toddlers available through the regional center and the local education agency). Early intervention services that children receive through the regional center are governed by the rules and protections of the IDEA, not the Lanterman Act. Educational agencies are also required to provide assistive technology for students as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students who are not eligible for special education under the IDEA because they do not fit into one of the defined categories, and/or because their learning problems are not severe enough to qualify for special education, may still receive assistive technology to allow them equal access and opportunity to participate with non-disabled peers. (See question 20 for information regarding students eligible under section 504 and the ADA, and Chapter 6 for more information on reasonable accommodation under anti-discrimination laws.) 5. How can students get assistive technology through the school? Any special education services, including assistive technology, should be included in the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). In order to begin the process, a request should be made, in writing, to the school, for the assistive technology that the student needs. If it is not known exactly what type of device is needed, simply state what the student's need is. For instance, for a child who has a hearing impairment, the request can say that the child needs help understanding what is being said in the classroom. Needs for assistive technology should be determined along with the student's other special education needs in the IEP process, including placement, transportation, and other related services. Once the request is made, the local education agency has 15 days to provide a proposed assessment plan. This must contain a copy of the notice of parent rights. Parents have at least 15 days to consent to the proposed assessments. Once the local education agency receives the parent's consent, it has 50 days to complete the assessments and develop the IEP. 6. Will the school evaluate the need for assistive technology? Yes. Once a request for assistive technology, or other special education services, is made, the school conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the child's need for the device or service at no cost to the family. If the parents disagree with the school's findings, they can obtain an independent evaluation. The school district is responsible for the cost of the independent evaluation unless it can show, at an administrative hearing it requests, that the school's assessment was accurate, complete, and met the proper legal requirements. 34 C.F.R. 300.503, Cal.Ed. Code 56329. 7. What is an IEP and how does it work? The Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is a legal document that is developed by a team and contains a special education student's goals and objectives, placement, and related services for each school year. The IEP team must consist of the child's parent(s), the student (if appropriate), the student's teacher, and a school administrator. In addition, it may include a regional center caseworker and others who provide services such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling. Each year, the IEP team must meet to develop a new IEP for the following year, based on the child's progress and educational needs. Assistive technology devices and services should be specifically included in the IEP. The parent must sign the IEP document before it can be implemented. If there is a disagreement about the IEP team's recommendations, the parent should not sign the IEP and should request a due process hearing. 8. What are the criteria for including assistive technology in an IEP? The IDEA regulations state that assistive technology can be included in an IEP for three reasons: as part of special education, as a related service, or as a supplemental aid or service to allow the child to be educated in the least restrictive environment. 34 C.F.R. 300.308. Although these distinctions may seem confusing, the basic criterion is that the student needs the assistive technology to benefit from special education. First, assistive technology may be considered as part of a student's goals and objectives for special education. 34 C.F.R. 300.17. For instance, a student may require the use of a communication device in order to respond to questions and converse with the teacher and peers. An IEP goal may state, "Using an electronic communication device, John will respond appropriately to questions from teacher and classmates 5 out of 5 times." Second, assistive technology may be part of related services. 34 C.F.R. 300.16. In this case, it may be the related service itself, or may enable a student to benefit from a related service. For example, a student may need a lift on the school bus in order to ride to school with peers. Davis USD 18 IDELR 696, 1992. A related service may also be training or evaluation to help the student use a device. For example, occupational therapy may involve determining correct positioning to use a computer keyboard or a communication board. Third, assistive technology may be a supplementary aid or service which enables a student to be educated in the least restrictive environment. 34 C.F.R. 300.550(b)(2). Assistive technology should be considered and approved to allow the student to remain in the regular classroom setting before a more restrictive instructional setting is considered necessary. For instance, a listening device which would enable a hearing impaired student to participate in general academic classes would be allowable if, without the device, the student might have to be placed in a more restrictive setting. If assistive technology is included in the IEP, the school district must purchase the device or the service. 9. Who owns assistive technology that is purchased by the school for a special education student? Any equipment purchased by the school belongs to the school district. If the student moves to another school district, the equipment remains with the district which made the purchase. A student should be allowed to take the equipment home, however, if the equipment is needed to benefit from education (e.g.: to do homework or to communicate with others outside of the classroom). 10. Can the school district require a family to purchase equipment with Medi-Cal or private insurance? Using other funding sources such as Medi-Cal or private insurance must be voluntary and done with the family's permission. Parents must not be made to suffer a financial loss not incurred by similarly situated parents of non-disabled students. Such losses may include a decrease in the availability of lifetime insurance coverage or other benefits, an increase in premiums or discontinuation of the policy, out-of-pocket expenses such as payment of a deductible in filing a claim, or a limit on the amount of services that can be claimed through Medi-Cal or insurance. Parents should be sure to find out if using their own insurance will limit the amount of insurance protection available for future family use. Even if parents volunteer to use other payment sources for assistive technology, the school district is not relieved of its obligation to provide all services included in the IEP. If insurance or Medi-Cal does not cover the entire cost of the equipment, the school must assume the remainder of the cost, so that there is no charge to the family. 11. Can a student take home equipment that is purchased by the school district? Yes, if the student needs the equipment in order to fully benefit from its use and home use is specified in the student's IEP, it may then be taken home. 18 IDELR 627, 1992. Hearing officers have consistently held that, even though the district owns the device, it cannot limit its use to school grounds if a student needs the device at home or in a community setting in order to receive a free, appropriate public education -- e.g.: to complete school homework or practice functional skills in non-school environments. The IEP team should discuss arrangements for taking equipment home and determine circumstances when this will be necessary. 12. Does the school provide training to use an assistive technology device? Yes. The school must provide adequate training for the student, family, and school personnel when necessary in order to ensure proper selection and full use of the device. Such training is included in the definition of assistive technology service in the IDEA and must be funded by the school district. 13. Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance of assistive technology devices? The school district is responsible for repairing and maintaining the devices it purchases. Parents and school districts should examine all warranties and maintenance contracts that accompany devices for provisions that may cover these services. Training, repair, and maintenance should be discussed with the school district and arrangements should be agreed upon before the IEP is implemented. The school district should review its property insurance policy to determine what the policy covers and whether it will cover loss or damage at school and at the child's home. 14. Is cost a consideration in whether assistive technology must be provided to a special education student? Cost may be a consideration in determining whether to provide a specific device, but only if a less expensive device is also appropriate. In one hearing decision, the hearing officer stated that cost was a factor, yet authorized a $7,000 Liberator communication device for the student. 19 IDELR 355 1992. Cost may not be a factor if the alternative will deny the student access to a free appropriate public education. 15. What if there is a disagreement about the need for or type of assistive technology? The IEP team should discuss any disagreements and attempt to resolve them informally. If either the family or the school district disagrees with the proposed IEP, they can file for a due process hearing with the state Special Education Hearing office. 16. How does the hearing process work? A hearing request must be made in writing and sent to: Special Education Hearing Office, Institute for Administrative Justice, McGeorge School of Law, 3200 Fifth Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95817 The Hearing office will schedule a date for mediation (which is optional), and a hearing date in case the issues cannot be resolved through mediation. The Hearing office must hold the hearing and make a decision within 45 days of receiving the hearing request. Both the school district and the parents have a right to be represented by an attorney or advocate at the mediation and at the hearing. If the parent wins, the school may be required to pay for the parent's reasonable attorney's fees. 17. What happens to the assistive technology device or service during the hearing process? There is a stay put provision which requires the current IEP to remain in effect while a hearing is pending. Therefore, if the current IEP provides for the use of a special computer but a new, proposed IEP would eliminate that provision, once the parent files for a hearing, the current IEP would remain in effect until the dispute is settled. The school would be required to provide all services in the current IEP, including the computer, throughout the appeal process. 18. What factors will the hearing officer look at to determine if a student is entitled to assistive technology? Determination of whether a student is entitled to an assistive technology device or service follows basic legal mandates for providing a free, appropriate public education. It includes a determination of whether the device or service is necessary to help the student benefit from special education, and/or whether the device or service is necessary to fulfill the school district's obligation to educate students with disabilities in the regular education environment if possible. In applying these standards, hearing officers have considered: in ordering a district to provide a communication device, the importance of language to education, the lack of alternative systems, and predicted success; in deciding which means of removing a child from a bus would be acceptable, the ability of a lift to improve gross motor skills, safety, and normalcy and family acceptance of the device; and whether the IEP appropriately considered the student's potential. 19. What can a parent do if the school is out of compliance with the law? When the educational agency appears to have violated a part of special education law or procedure (for example, does not provide a device that is in the IEP, does not follow time lines for assessment and referral, does not inform parents of an IEP meeting, or fails to implement a due process hearing decision), a parent, individual, public agency or organization can file a complaint with the California State Department of Education (CDE). The initial investigation may be made by the school district. A parent who feels that the school district should not do the investigation should explain the reasons in the complaint. When CDE investigates a complaint, it will make a written determination of whether the education agency was out of compliance with law or with the student's IEP. If the CDE finds an education agency to be out of compliance, it will order the agency to come back into compliance. In addition, the CDE may order the agency to submit a plan of correction -- a document describing the steps the agency has taken and will take to assure that the problem does not occur again, either to this student or to others. To file a compliance complaint with the Department of Education, write to: Program Assistance Complaint Resolution Unit, California State Department of Education, P.O. Box 944272, Sacramento, CA 94244-2720 CDE must investigate and resolve the complaint within 60 calendar days from receipt of the complaint. If the Complaint Resolution Unit does not respond within 10 days after the complaint is mailed, call the Unit at (916) 657-5465 to follow up. 20. Are there any dispute resolution procedures other than the compliance complaint and due process mediation and hearing? After identification of a disputed issue, you may ask for a "pre-due process" mediation. This is submitted to the Special Education Hearing Office at the address listed in Question 16. This pre-due process mediation is not mandatory and you may proceed directly to filing for a due process hearing. A pre-due process mediation is conducted exactly like a due process mediation. The state will provide a mediator to sit down informally with both sides and try to resolve the disagreement. See Question 16. It is not clear whether the Special Education Hearing Office will offer a due process mediation after the parties have participated in a pre-due process mediation without success. There are several major disadvantages to participating in a pre-due process mediation. One disadvantage of the pre-due mediation is that parents cannot have an attorney or independent contractor to provide legal advocacy and participate at the mediation. Another critical disadvantage of the pre-due process mediation, and the reason advocates do not recommend it, is because the "stay-put" protections, which guarantee that the student will remain in his/her existing placement or receive existing services until the dispute is resolved, do not apply until a due process hearing has been requested. Cal. Ed. Code 56500.3 and 56501. 21. Can students who do not qualify for special education get assistive technology through the school district? Some students with disabilities who are not eligible for special education under the IDEA may require assistive technology devices and services to participate in school activities. These students may be covered under the anti-discrimination provisions of the ADA or section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. (See Chapter 6 on reasonable accommodation under federal and state anti-discrimination laws.) A student who is covered under the ADA or section 504 may receive assistive technology as a reasonable accommodation if needed in order to participate in education equally with other students. Such a student might receive assistive technology to overcome functional limitations without a need to be classified as needing special education. For instance, a student who uses a wheelchair might need a specially designed desk in order to do classroom work. Or a student with a visual impairment might need a special computer monitor or software to enlarge characters on the screen. If the school fails to provide assistive technology as a reasonable accommodation, a complaint can be filed with the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. To file a complaint with OCR, a parent or advocate should write or call OCR and ask for a copy of the complaint form and instruction sheet for filing it. U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region IX Office, Old Federal Building, 50 United Nations Plaza, Room 239, San Francisco, CA 94102, Telephone: (415) 556-7000; TDD (415) 556-6806 OCR will acknowledge the complaint within 15 days of its receipt, but may take up to 45 days to review the complaint if more information is needed. If the school district is found to be out of compliance, OCR will seek voluntary compliance within 60 days. If the school does not comply, enforcement measures will begin within 30 days. 22. Do school districts receive special funding to provide assistive technology? The IDEA provides funding for special education in general, including assistive technology devices and services. The IDEA also provides for grants to school districts under Part G for increasing the availability of assistive technology. 20 U.S.C. 1461, 1462. In addition, under California law, school districts must provide equipment needed to implement a child's IEP. State law provides money to school districts to purchase equipment required in the IEP for students with low-incidence disabilities (visual, hearing, or solely orthopedic impairments). For example, such equipment would include Braille equipment for blind students or communication devices for students with oral language disabilities. In addition, schools are required to purchase equipment needed to provide related services such as occupational and physical therapy equipment. Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56771; Cal. Gov. Code Sec. 7575(d). Even though schools receive specific funding for students with low-incidence disabilities, they are still required to provide assistive technology for all eligible students. Schools are not allowed to deny a student devices and services because the student does not meet the low-incidence disability criteria, or because all low incidence funds have been expended. 23. What is AB 3632/882 and how does it affect assistive technology? Assembly Bill (AB) 3632/882 is a law that requires a number of state agencies, such as the Departments of Education, Health Services, Social Services, and Rehabilitation, to provide various services to children with disabilities, to coordinate and share the resources (human and fiscal) necessary to provide them with a free appropriate public education. AB 3632/882 delegates responsibility for providing certain services to the agencies when consistent with their statutory obligations. For instance, California Children's Services might be required to provide occupational therapy in order for an eligible child to use an assistive technology device. Children must meet the agency's criteria in order for AB 3632/882 to apply. School districts are responsible for children who are not eligible for AB 3632/882 services. Furthermore, if a child is eligible for services under AB 3632/882, it is the school district's responsibility to ensure that the child receives any services that are necessary. In the event that the agency fails to provide a service, the school district is responsible for providing it and seeking reimbursement from the agency. (See Protection and Advocacy's "Special Education Rights and Responsibilities" book, chapter 9 for more on AB 3632/882). 24. Can students receive assistive technology to participate in vocational education? Yes. All special education students may receive career development or vocational education services. Depending on the age and ability level of the child, these services may include grooming skills, social skills training and general work behaviors in the classroom, workplace, and in the community. Common assistive technology which may be necessary to modify the vocational education curriculum includes accessible desks, talking computer terminals, and sound or light signals on equipment. If a student is to participate in a regular vocational education program and needs modifications to the program, the modifications must be included in the student's IEP. 25. What are early intervention services and how do they affect assistive technology? In 1986, the IDEA was amended, through PL 99-457, to include early intervention services as Part H of the IDEA. These services are available for children from birth through age five and can include any necessary assistive technology. The local educational agency is responsible for providing services to children with solely low-incidence disabilities (visual, hearing, or severe orthopedic impairments or any combination of these) from birth through age two. Regional centers are responsible for children who are regional center clients or who are at risk of becoming developmentally disabled (including those who are also special education eligible) through age two. For instance, an infant with Down's syndrome would receive Part H services through the regional center, while a blind child would receive services through the school district. Part H services provided by the regional center include special education services and are governed by the same protections and rules as the IDEA, not the Lanterman Act. Children ages three and over who are eligible for special education will receive services from the local education agency. The school district is responsible for developing a plan for transition to preschool, which includes assistive technology, for eligible children by their third birthday. 34 C.F.R. 300.154. Available assistive technology under Part H is defined the same as under the IDEA. 34 C.F.R. 303.12(d)(1). Assistive technology is included as part of "supports and services necessary to enhance families' capacity to meet the developmental needs of the child." 26. How can a child obtain assistive technology through Part H? The process for obtaining services under Part H, including assistive technology, is the same whether the child receives services through the local education agency or the regional center. The services must be included in the child's Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), which is similar to an IEP. Once the child is referred to the appropriate agency, the agency appoints a service coordinator, completes an evaluation and assessments, and conducts an IFSP meeting within 45 days. Interim services may be provided within the 45 day period. If there is a disagreement over the provision of early intervention services with either the regional center or the local education agency, a family may file for a due process hearing by writing to: Office of Administrative Hearings, 501 J Street, Suite 230, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-445-4926 This process is similar to the special education hearing process in that a mediation may be scheduled before the hearing, at the parents' request, in order to try to resolve disputes informally. Once a hearing is requested, the hearing office has 30 days to hold a mediation and a hearing if necessary, and mail a written decision to the parties. 34 C.F.R. 303.420 and following. During the hearing process, services must continue at the levels determined in the IFSP. 20 U.S.C. 1480. 1. "EHLR" is the Education of the Handicapped Law Reporter. The publication has now been changed to IDELR (Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Reporter) to reflect the change in the name of the Act.