For New York City families, resolution meetings often conjure feelings of confusion, and it's no wonder why. Attorneys often characterize them as "procedural" and only "a formality." This is because though the NYC DOE is required by law to a hold resolution meeting within 15 days of a case being filed, most parents' claims cannot be resolved through resolution.
While parents who do not believe their claims can be resoled in resolution can opt to "waive" their resolution meeting, the DOE must agree to waive the meeting as well, and they do not always do so. If the district wants to hold a meeting, the parent must participate.
To that end, the following are six tips to keep in mind when participating in a resolution meeting in New York City:
In NYC, the DOE representative on the other end of the line cannot resolve reimbursement claims, and he or she will often tell you that right away. It is for this reason that most parents and their attorneys can conduct resolution meetings with the NYC DOE over the phone. Do not expect to be able to resolve claims for which your only relief is money. In fact, if that is all that you need/want from the DOE the meeting will likely be very short (2-3 minutes long). That is OK! It just means that the case will continue to move through the hearing/settlement process as before.
If you are at an approved school, the DOE cannot agree to fund it at an resolution meeting, but they can agree to reconvene an IEP meeting where a deferral to CBST for placement at a non-public approved school can be considered. Because you stand to gain something from the meeting, your attorney may very likely advise that both they and you attend the meeting in person.
The DOE representative handling your resolution meeting can also agree to reconvene your child’s IEP meeting for other reasons, order evaluations and assessments, and issue RSAs (“vouchers” for outside related services at the DOE’s rate), among other things. If you are seeking any of these, a resolution meeting can be useful.
You can agree to a “partial resolution” of your claims. This means that, if you are able to resolve some non-reimbursement related issues in resolution, you can still move forward to hearing/settlement on the reimbursement pieces of your case.
If you are offered something in resolution, you should keep an open mind, but tell the DOE that you need to see any offer in writing first, before you can agree.
Finally, your attorney will be with you, either on the phone or in person, let them lead the way. Often, resolution is a formality and the parent will not even have to speak at all.
Please note: this applies ONLY to New York City. Outside of the city, districts often use resolution meetings as a vehicle to discuss a settlement, or at least to discuss their willingness to settle, and therefore, they can be very useful for parents even in reimbursement cases.
For additional questions about resolution meetings, or any other inquires contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-741-3030.