FAQs for Virtual Prehearing Conferences and Hearings
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How will I connect to a remote hearing?
OAH is using Microsoft TEAMS to hold the videoconference prehearing conference and due process hearing. All participants must be in a quiet private location, unless otherwise ordered. All participants will be required to connect to the TEAMS meetings by computer and appear by videoconference using a webcam unless they do not have the required computer equipment. In that situation, at the hearing administrative law judge’s discretion, parties may be permitted to appear using TEAMS by audio only, or by telephone. The administrative law judge is referred to as ALJ.
May I opt out of a remote hearing?
Parties will not have the option to “opt out” of proceeding to hearing. A due process hearing must be conducted, and a decision rendered within 45 days of receipt of the due process notice unless an extension is granted for good cause. (34 C.F.R. § 300.515(a) & (c) (2006); Ed. Code, §§ 56502, subd. (f), 56505, subd. (f)(3); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 1, § 1020.) Parties are encouraged to request mediation to attempt to resolve their dispute before hearing.
May I request a continuance?
OAH will consider timely written continuance requests from parties. Good cause may include the unavailability of a party, counsel, or an essential witness due to death, illness or other excusable circumstances; substitution of an attorney when the substitution is required in the interests of justice; a party’s excused inability to obtain essential testimony or other material evidence despite diligent efforts; or another significant, unanticipated change in the status of the case as a result of which the case is not ready for hearing. OAH will consider these and other bases for good cause if supported by a declaration. (Ed. Code, § 56505, subd. (f)(3); Cal. Rules of Court, rule 3.1332(c).)
Do I still have a right to have an attorney?
Parties will, as usual, have the right at the due process hearing to be represented and advised by an attorney. If a party wants to have individuals who are not active members of the California State Bar, with special knowledge or training relating to the child with special needs, to advise them during hearing, the hearing ALJ will provide the conditions for that person’s participation at the mediation, prehearing conference and hearing. (Educ. Code section 56505(e)(1).)
How do I arrange for witnesses at the hearing?
Parties will continue to have the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses. (Educ. Code section 56505(e)(2).) The hearing ALJ will discuss the scheduling and appearance of witnesses at the prehearing conference and on each day of hearing. All witnesses will be required to connect to the TEAMS meetings by computer and appear by videoconference using a webcam unless they do not have the required computer equipment. In that situation, at the hearing ALJ’s discretion, witnesses may be permitted to appear using TEAMS by audio only, or by telephone. Parties who want to subpoena a witness may contact the OAH case manager.
For copies of optional subpoenas see the forms page SUBPOENAS.
Will the videoconference hearing be confidential?
Parties will be prohibited from video recording the hearing. The videoconference hearing will remain confidential, unless otherwise ordered. The audio recording made by the hearing ALJ will continue to be the official record. The parties may request to audio-record the hearing. If a parent or student wished to have an open hearing, an audio recording of the hearing will be made available at the end of the proceeding.
How will I communicate with my attorney or client during the hearing?
Attorneys may arrange, at their sole discretion, for their client to attend the hearing in the same location as the attorney. The client and the lawyer must each have the required equipment. Otherwise, where an attorney and client appear for a videoconference hearing from different locations, the attorney and client will be provided a virtual break out room to have confidential communications, or the attorney and client can communicate by other means, which can be utilized throughout the hearing, at the discretion of the ALJ.
What if a party or witness requires the assistance of an interpreter?
OAH will continue to provide interpreters/translators for those participants who require them. These interpreters will appear either by videoconference or telephonically.
Will I still be able to offer exhibits, including for refreshing recollection, rebuttal or impeachment?
Yes. The parties will be required to upload their exhibits electronically according to the instructions provided in the Prehearing Conference Order and the Order Setting Procedures for Filing Exhibits Electronically. The hearing ALJ will address the issue of exhibits offered for refreshing recollection, rebuttal or impeachment on a case by case basis if and when it is raised at hearing.