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RULE §89.1180Prehearing Procedures

(a) Promptly upon being assigned to a due process hearing, the hearing officer will forward to the parties a scheduling order which sets the time, date, and location of the hearing and contains the timelines for the following actions, as applicable:

  (1) Response to Request for a Due Process Hearing (34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), §300.508(f));

  (2) Resolution Meeting (34 CFR, §300.510(a));

  (3) Contesting Sufficiency of the Request for a Hearing (34 CFR, §300.508(d));

  (4) Resolution Period (34 CFR, §300.510(b));

  (5) Five-Business Day Disclosure (34 CFR, §300.512(a)(3)); and

  (6) the date by which the final decision of the hearing officer must be issued (34 CFR, §300.515 and §300.532(c)(2)).

(b) The hearing officer must schedule a prehearing conference to be held at a time reasonably convenient to the parties to the hearing. The prehearing conference must be held by telephone unless the hearing officer determines that circumstances require an in-person conference.

(c) The prehearing conference must be recorded and transcribed by a court reporter, who will promptly prepare a transcript of the prehearing conference for the hearing officer with copies to each of the parties.

(d) The purpose of the prehearing conference will be to consider any of the following:

  (1) specifying issues as set forth in the request for a hearing;

  (2) admitting certain assertions of fact or stipulations;

  (3) establishing any limitations on the number of witnesses and the time allotted for presenting each party's case; and/or

  (4) discussing other matters which may aid in simplifying the proceeding or disposing of matters in controversy, including settling matters in dispute.

(e) Promptly upon the conclusion of the prehearing conference, the hearing officer will issue and deliver to the parties a written prehearing order which confirms and/or identifies:

  (1) the time, place, and date of the hearing;

  (2) the issues to be adjudicated at the hearing;

  (3) the relief being sought at the hearing;

  (4) the deadline for disclosure of evidence and identification of witnesses, which must be at least five business days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing (hereinafter referred to as the "Disclosure Deadline");

  (5) the date by which the final decision of the hearing officer must be issued; and

  (6) other information determined to be relevant by the hearing officer.

(f) No pleadings, other than the request for a hearing, and the response to the request for a hearing, if applicable, are mandatory, unless ordered by the hearing officer. Any pleadings after the request for a hearing must be filed with the hearing officer. Copies of all pleadings must be sent to all parties of record in the hearing and to the hearing officer. If a party is represented by an attorney or a non-attorney determined by the hearing officer to be qualified to represent the party, all copies must be sent to the attorney of record or non-attorney representative, as applicable. Facsimile copies may be substituted for copies sent by other means. An affirmative statement that a copy of the pleading has been sent to all parties and the hearing officer is sufficient to indicate compliance with this subsection.

(g) Discovery methods are limited to those specified in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Texas Government Code, Chapter 2001, and may be further limited by order of the hearing officer. Upon a party's request to the hearing officer, the hearing officer may issue subpoenas and commissions to take depositions under the APA. Subpoenas and commissions to take depositions must be issued in the name of the Texas Education Agency.

(h) On or before the Disclosure Deadline (which must be at least five business days prior to a scheduled hearing), each party must disclose and provide to all other parties and the hearing officer copies of all evidence (including, without limitation, all evaluations completed by that date and recommendations based on those evaluations) that the party intends to use at the hearing. An index of the documents disclosed must be included with and accompany the documents. Each party must also include with the documents disclosed a list of all witnesses (including their names, addresses, phone numbers, and professions) that the party anticipates calling to testify at the hearing.

(i) A party may request a dismissal or nonsuit of a hearing to the same extent that a plaintiff may dismiss or nonsuit a case under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 162. However, if a party requests a dismissal or nonsuit of a hearing after the Disclosure Deadline has passed and, at any time within one year thereafter requests a subsequent hearing involving the same or substantially similar issues as those alleged in the original hearing, then, absent good cause or unless the parties agree otherwise, only evidence disclosed and witnesses identified by the Disclosure Deadline in the original hearing may be introduced at the subsequent hearing.

Source Note: The provisions of this §89.1180 adopted to be effective March 6, 2001, 26 TexReg 1837; amended to be effective November 11, 2007, 32 TexReg 8129; amended to be effective November 28, 2012, 37 TexReg 9360; amended to be effective December 31, 2013, 38 TexReg 9552; amended to be effective March 1, 2017, 42 TexReg 760

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