Effective Dispute Resolution

Office of Special Services & Inclusive Education

Welcome to the Maine Department of Education Office of Special Services Dispute Resolution. The links below offer information on dispute resolution options available to parents and school districts regarding disputes that may arise during the Special Education process. In addition to information on Mediation, Due Process Hearing requests, State Complaint Investigation requests, the links include information about Special Education laws and regulations.

Advocacy Groups & Resources

three puzzle pieces

Maine Parent Federation                          

Disability Rights Maine       

 Kids Legal                        

The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)

CADRE IDEA Dispute Resolution Parent Guides and Companion Videos The purpose of these short videos is to provide general information about the dispute resolution options available to parents and other stakeholders under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). For more information specific to Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER) and Dispute Resolution, please contact our office. Links to resources are for reference and information only and do not imply endorsement by the Maine Department of Education. 

 Early Resolution


The Office of Special Services at the Maine Department of Education has staff available to provide further explanation about federal and state laws related to special education, describe the options that are available to parents, inform parents of procedural safeguards, identify other agencies and support services, and describe available remedies and how parents can proceed. This is an informal process that may alleviate the need to file for a formal state complaint investigation or due process hearing.


IEP Facilitation

compassA facilitated IEP is one where an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is developed by a collaborative team whose members share responsibility for the meeting process and results, and where decision-making is managed using facilitation skills (Key2Ed, 2005, 2010, 2018). In states that offer facilitated IEP meetings, data suggests that there is a positive impact on IEP team member communication, and increased levels of trust and collaboration among stakeholders. 

IEP Facilitation Handbook

Facilitated IEP Meeting Request Form

IEP Facilitation FAQ



mediationMediation is a voluntary process option when filing a Due Process Hearing request or a State Complaint Investigation. A neutral person assists the parties in communicating and exploring possible options for resolving a conflict. The goal of special education mediation is to help the parties reach their own mutually acceptable resolution of the disputed issues related to a student’s special education services. Stand-alone mediation is available without filing for a Due Process Hearing or a State Complaint Investigation.

Who can request mediation?

Stand Alone Mediation

Stand Alone Mediation Request Form

Mediation Handbook


 Complaint Investigation

glassA Complaint Investigation is a written complaint requesting an investigation of any alleged violations of the IDEA/MUSER requirements.  A State Complaints Officer will conduct an informal investigation, considering the information and interviews of the parties involved, and issue a written decision.


Who can file a State Complaint Investigation Request?

State Complaint Investigation Request Form 

State Systemic Complaint Investigation Request Form


Due Process Hearing

lawA Due Process hearing is a process involving a Hearing Officer who conducts a hearing, much like a formal court proceeding. The Hearing Officer considers the information and testimony offered by each side and issues a written decision. 


Who can file a due process hearing request?

Due Process Hearing Request Form

Due Process Expedited Hearing Request Form 

Guidance for preparation of evidence for hearings



Due Process Forms                                           Decisions - Case Outcomes


Leigh Lardieri, Dispute Resolution Coordinator
David Emberley, Due Process Consultant
Alisha Brownstein, Legal Secretary Associate