Special Education Case Loads Task Force

Hearing Officer Language in Federal Law, Minnesota Statute and Minnesota Rule

Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.091

Subd. 13. Hearing officer qualifications. The commissioner shall maintain a list of qualified hearing officers. The list shall include a statement of the qualifications of each person listed. Upon receipt of a written request for a hearing, the commissioner shall appoint a hearing officer from the list. The hearing officer must:

(1) be knowledgeable and impartial;

(2) have no personal interest in or specific involvement with the student who is a party to the hearing;

(3) not have been employed as an administrator by the district that is a party to the hearing;

(4) not have been involved in selecting the district administrator who is a party to the hearing;

(5) have no personal, economic, or professional interest in the outcome of the hearing other than properly administering federal and state laws, rules, and policies;

(6) have no substantial involvement in developing state or local policies or procedures challenged in the hearing;

(7) not be a current employee or board member of a Minnesota public school district, education district, intermediate unit or regional education agency, or the department if the department is the service provider;

(8) not be a current employee or board member of a disability advocacy organization or group;

(9) not otherwise be under contract with the department or the school district;

(10) know and understand state and federal special education laws, rules, and regulations, and legal interpretations by federal and state courts; and

(11) have the knowledge and ability to conduct hearings and render and write decisions according to appropriate, standard legal practice.

Minnesota Rule

3525.4010 HEARING OFFICERS.

Subpart 1.Criteria for selection. An individual must meet, at a minimum, the following criteria to be placed on the department's list of hearing officers:

A. have at least five years of experience practicing law and hold a current license to practice law in the state of Minnesota; and

B. have litigation experience and an understanding of administrative law.

Subp. 2. Standards of conduct. Hearing officers are expected to follow the Professionalism Aspirations for Judges, Referees, and Administrative Law Judges to Lawyers and Parties, as promulgated by the Minnesota Supreme Court, January 2001.

Subp. 3. Evaluation. The department will collect and maintain data on the hearing system which must include, at a minimum: the number of hearing requests, the method of resolving hearings, and participant evaluation of the process and outcome.

Federal Regulations: 34 C.F.R. 300.511(c)(1)

(c) Impartial hearing officer. (1) At a minimum, a hearing officer—

(i) Must not be—

(A) An employee of the SEA or the LEA that is involved in the education or care of the child; or

(B) A person having a personal or professional interest that conflicts with the person's objectivity in the hearing;

(ii) Must possess knowledge of, and the ability to understand, the provisions of the Act, Federal and State regulations pertaining to the Act, and legal interpretations of the Act by Federal and State courts;

(iii) Must possess the knowledge and ability to conduct hearings in accordance with appropriate, standard legal practice; and

(iv) Must possess the knowledge and ability to render and write decisions in accordance with appropriate, standard legal practice.

(2) A person who otherwise qualifies to conduct a hearing under paragraph (c)(1) of this section is not an employee of the agency solely because he or she is paid by the agency to serve as a hearing officer.

(3) Each public agency must keep a list of the persons who serve as hearing officers. The list must include a statement of the qualifications of each of those persons.