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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I obtain access to the decisions of the State Review Officer?

All of the decisions may be accessed at this Website by following the links to the SRO Decisions.

Is there any written description of the special education process and my rights as a parent?

A copy of the New York State Education Department Procedural Safeguards Notice can be found at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/formsnotices/procedural-safeguards-notice.htm. This notice provides information on a parent’s legal rights under federal and State law to be informed about and involved in the special education process and to make sure that your child receives a free appropriate public education.  In addition, a copy of the booklet entitled A Parent's Guide to Special Education for Children Ages 3-21 should be available to you from your school district. The Procedural Safeguards Notice and the Parent’s Guide are also available from your school district upon your request.

I need to talk to someone about my problem with the school district before deciding to request an impartial hearing. Whom should I contact?

There are seven Office of Special Education Quality Assurance Regional Offices that may be able to assist you. You may reach State Education Department staff by calling:

Eastern Regional Office - (518) 486-6366
Hudson Valley Regional Office - (518) 473-1185
Central Regional Office - (315) 428-4556
Western Regional Office - (585) 344-2002
Long Island Regional Office - (631) 952-3352 
New York City Regional Office - (718) 722-4544
Nondistrict Unit - (518) 473-1185

What if a hearing has been held, but the hearing officer has been delayed in rendering a decision?

You should contact the Due Process Unit of the State Education Department's Office of Special Education (518) 473-0170, or initiate an appeal to the Commissioner of Education pursuant to Section 310 of the Education Law. Information about appeals to the Commissioner may be obtained from the Appeals Coordinator, Office of Counsel, State Education Department, Albany, NY 12234.

If I don't like the services the school district is providing to my child, can the State Review Officer or the Office of State Review help me?

A State Review Officer can become involved only after there has been an impartial hearing and the hearing officer has made his or her decision that is appealed to the Office of State Reveiw.

I am seeking judicial review of a State Review Officer decision. How can I obtain a certified copy of the administrative hearing record before the State Review Officer for the Court's review?

Instructions for Requesting a Certified Copy of the Administrative Hearing Record to Submit to a Court

All requests by a school district or parent for a certified copy of the administrative record must be made in writing to the Office of State Review.  Telephonic requests will not be accepted or processed.

The Office of State Review is capable of reproducing a hardcopy of the administrative record, but does not have the capacity to produce or file certified copies of administrative records in conformance with the electronic filing rules that school districts or parents must generally follow when seeking judicial review in a federal court (e.g. via CM/ECF).  In the experience of the Office of State Review, Courts have generally been accommodating when parties request that the certified administrative record be provided by the Office of State Review via hard copy.  Electronic portions of hearing records (e.g., electronic transcripts on CD-ROMs, exhibits in electronic form on CD-ROMs, etc.) are always copied "as is" and provided for a Court together with the hard copy of the administrative hearing record.

A single written request may be made in the following manner, provided it includes all of the following information:

a. SRO Appeal Number;  

b. Caption of Litigation & Court Index/Identification Number;

c. Name of the Presiding Judge, and, if applicable the assigned Magistrate Judge;

d. Name and address of the Court that will receive the certified copy of the administrative record, including the name of the individual to whom the certified administrative record should be sent; and,  

e. Confirmation in writing from the requesting party that they have communicated with the Court and ascertained the Court staff's (i.e. judicial law clerk's or administrative staff's) preferred method for receiving the administrative record. This policy ensures that the Court receives the certified copy of the administrative record in the manner that the receiving Court believes is appropriate in each case as each judge's individual practices and preferences vary considerably.  In the experience of the staff of the Office of State Review, the most common preferences expressed by individual court chambers are as follows:

  • Some court chambers prefer to accept a hard copy of the certified administrative record that has been sent to chambers directly from the Office of State Review. 
  • Alternatively, some court chambers express the preference that the record be filed electronically in accordance with the Court's CM/ECF rules and will ask either the school district's or parents' counsel to digitize the administrative record for that purpose.
  • Occasionally, chambers may also request that a party file the certified administrative hearing record in a manner that includes measures for shielding the student's personally protected information.

Upon receipt of a party's written request that meets guidelines a-e above, the Office of State Review will process the request and send a hard copy of the certified administrative record in accordance with the Court's preferences.  Any further questions, concerns, or requests about the certified administrative record (including acquiring copies of the certified record as submitted to the Court) should be directed to the Court. A copy of the table of contents of the administrative hearing record is transmitted to both parties at the time the record is transmitted. The Office of State Review does not provide additional record duplication services for the convenience of parties and/or counsel.

Form for Requesting a Certified Copy of the Administrative Record. PDF / MS Word.  The Office of State Review has prepared forms for your convience for requesting a certified copy of the administrative record.

Two-Stage Written Requests.  In the rare case that a party has filed an action seeking emergent relief (e.g. a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction) and believes the Court will require a certified copy of the administrative record quickly, the Office of State Review will allow for the submission of a request for the certified administrative record in two stages.  In the first stage, as soon as it becomes apparent that the court will need a copy of the administrative hearing record,  a written request may be filed that addresses items in guidelines a-d above and indicates that the requesting party will be inquiring with respect to how the court chambers prefers to receive the administrative record.  Once the party has had an opportunity to consult with court staff, in the second stage of the request, a second letter to the Office of State Review can be submitted by the requesting party confirming the information required by part e of the guidelines above that addresses how and from whom the court wishes to receive the certified administrative record.

Court Orders.  It is unnecessary to seek formal Court orders directing the production of a certified hearing record. A party requesting to have the certified administrative record provided to the Court by any method need not obtain a formal court order, but may merely identify in their written letter request to the Office of State Review the name of the Court personnel or the assigned Judge from whom the party has received the instructions and/or confirmation regarding record submission.

A copy of the certified administrative record will not be sent to counsel for a party unless such counsel has represented in a letter to the Office of State Review that he or she has obtained instructions from the judge's staff or the judge that specifically requests the Office of State Review to place the copy of the certified administrative record in the care and custody of the party.

Any practice by which a party unilaterally places dates and procedures for the Office of State Review to transmit a certified copy of the administrative hearing record in a proposed order to a Court without consulting the Office of State Review first is strongly discouraged.

Judcial Proceedings involving the State.  Although uncommon, the Office of the Attorney General may become involved with a judicial review proceeding in which an administrative record was file with the Office of State Review. Under those circumstances the Office of State Review typically coordinates with the assigned Assistant Attorney General with regard to reproduction of the certified administrative record.

How long will it take the Office of State Review to provide a certified copy of the administrative record?

Although not set forth in law, as a matter of convenience to the courts and parties, the Office of State Review has generally endeavored with success to transmit certified copies of administrative records requested by litigants within 30 days of the Office of State Review's receipt of written requests that meet the guidelines.  The administrative staff is responsible for a number of tasks including processing filings related to pending administrative appeals and assisting State Review Officers in meeting federally-mandated timelines for issuing appeal decisions.  Consequently, the priorities of the Office of State Review administrative staff change on a daily basis.  The Office of State Review identifies the 30-day period as general goal and cannot guarantee the ability to provide the record in a particular case any sooner than 30 days from the Office of State Review's receipt of a written request without disrupting other administrative case work and other, preceding certified record requests that are being processed for the benefit of other litigants and courts.

If a party believes that the 30-day goal is unworkable due to exigent circumstances, nothing in the IDEA or State law precludes a court from receiving a copy of the administrative record from another source, including one of the parties.  Each party should already have the means to accomplish this. Both parties should have received a copy of the impartial hearing officer's decision and the school district should have received the record of the impartial hearing from the impartial hearing officer, including transcripts and exhibits, along with a certification thereof, which State regulation requires be provided to the parents at no cost (see 8 NYCRR 200.5[j][5]; see also 8 NYCRR 200.5[j][5][vi]). Further, each party should have been served with all pleadings and copied on all correspondence and/or additional evidence pertaining to the appeal of the impartial hearing officer's decision before a State Review Officer (see 8 NYCRR 279.4[c], [g]; 279.5[e]; 279.6[c]). Each party or party's counsel should have received a copy of the issued State Review Officer's decision (see 8 NCYRR 279.12[b]).

Prompt written requests to the Office of State Review for administrative hearing records, as well as communication by parties about any impending action by the court which may require the administrative hearing record is appreciated and allows Office of State Review staff to prioritize tasks and accommodate the needs of all stakeholders as best as possible.