Do I have to wait for a SENDIST hearing to resolve the issues?
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Parents/carers should try to reach agreement with the Education Authority throughout the time leading up to a hearing and in many cases it is possible to reach agreement after lodgement of the appeal but before a hearing.
Parents/carers may use the Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Service (DARS) at any time to assist in resolving disagreements between parents and schools or the Education Authority in relation to special educational needs. This does not affect the right to appeal to SENDIST.
It is important to note that the time limit for appeal to SENDIST continues to run and the appeal should be lodged with the 2 month time limit, even if negotiations are ongoing to protect the child’s rights in the event that agreement cannot be reached.
Parents/carers may seek free independent legal advice from the Children’s Law Centre to ensure they know their legal rights before negotiating with the Education Authority and particularly once a potential agreement has been proposed.
It is strongly recommended that a SENDIST appeal should not be withdrawn by a parent until the agreement is confirmed in writing by the Education Authority and the parent is satisfied with all aspects of the agreement.