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Division Policy 2.04

SUBJECT

Review Process for IL and CFP

EFFECTIVE DATE

January 12, 2000

REVIEW DATE

January 18, 2013

EXPIRATION DATE

These procedures will be reviewed and updated as needed.

PURPOSE

To provide the Rehabilitation Center Administrator, District Administrators and State Office Staff with guidelines for informal and formal review process for consumers in the Independent Living Adult Program (ILAP) and Children and Families Program (CFP).

AUTHORITY

FS 413

POLICY

An applicant or client has a right to request a review of any decision made by the Division of Blind Services (DBS) regarding their rehabilitation program.  At any time an applicant/client is entitled to request one of the four review processes that are described below. An applicant/eligible individual may request such a review through an informal review process, (District review conducted by a Supervisor or District Administrator, or an Administrative review conducted by the Chief, Bureau of Client Services, or mediation which is conducted by a certified Mediator) or formal review (Fair Hearing) procedures outlined below.

MEDIATION

An applicant or eligible individual has the right to pursue mediation with respect to any decision concerning the furnishing or denial of services by DBS. The process of mediation is voluntary, must not be used to delay or deny an individual's right to a formal hearing, and will be conducted by a certified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques. The cost of mediation is the sole responsibility of DBS.

The DBS representative must have full authority to settle with applicant or client demand without further consultation.

Each session in the mediation process must be scheduled within 45 days of an individual's written request. The individual must submit such a request within 30 days of the decision regarding service provision to the Bureau Chief of Client Services and Program Support. If the parties of the dispute in the mediation process reach an agreement, it will be set forth in a written mediation agreement.

Discussions that occur during the mediation process are confidential and will not be used, as evidence in any subsequent due process or civil proceedings. Each party to the mediation may be required to sign a pledge of confidentiality prior to the commencement of the mediation process.

The process of mediation must not delay a formal hearing, if so desired by the individual unless the individual agrees upon an extended time frame or, as appropriate his/her representative.

Each of the informal reviews must be conducted and a written decision provided within a time frame agreed upon by both parties, but at least within 45 days of the request to allow for a formal review if desired and requested by the individual. The informal review process will not delay a formal hearing if so desired by the individual, unless the individual agrees upon an extended time frame or, as appropriate his/her representative. A written decision resulting from either a supervisory review or administrative review or mediation must be included in the individual's record of services.

INFORMAL REVIEW PROCESS

DBS procedures for conducting informal reviews are initiated by an applicant or eligible client requesting a review with regard to a decision made by a rehabilitation specialist or supervisor concerning the provision or denial of services.

  1. Review is conducted by the specialist’s direct supervisor or District Administrator at the verbal or written request of an applicant or eligible individual or, as appropriate, his/her representative. 
  2. If the individual is dissatisfied with the results of a district review or chooses to bypass a district review, he/she may make a written request for an Administrative Review to be conducted by the Client Advocate or designee.  The Client Advocate shall act on behalf of the client and may take a position adverse to that of Client Services.

    The Client Advocate shall contact the District Office involved to ascertain facts and law that the District Office relies upon.  If the Client Advocate determines the action of the District Office to be incorrect, he shall recommend the District office take corrective action.  If the District office disagrees with the recommendation of the Client Advocate, the issue shall be brought before the Division Director for resolution.  If the Client Advocate concurs with the action of the District Office, he shall so inform the client in writing.

Both reviews must be conducted and a written decision provided within a time frame agreed upon by both parties, but at least within 45 days of the request to allow for a formal review if desired and requested by the individual.  The informal review process will not delay a formal hearing if so desired by the individual unless the individual or, as appropriate his/her representative, agrees upon an extended time frame.  A written decision resulting from either a district review or administrative review must be included in the individual’s record of services.

FORMAL REVIEW PROCESS

  1. Impartial Due Process Hearing Procedures:  An applicant or eligible individual may request a formal review/fair hearing of a decision concerning the furnishing or denial of services through the process of a fair hearing.  The fair hearings are conducted by an impartial hearing officer from the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), within 45 days of a written request by the individual, unless informal resolution is achieved prior to the 45th day or the parties agree to a specific extension of time.  The individual must submit such a request to the DBS Director within 30 days of the decision regarding service provision.   DBS does not suspend, reduce, or terminate services being provided under an evaluation, assessment, or individualized plan of services (IPS).  Such services will be provided pending a final resolution through either informal or an impartial due process hearing unless there is evidence that such services have been obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, collusion, or criminal conduct on the part of the individual.

The individual, or individual’s representative, must be afforded the opportunity to provide additional evidence, information, and witnesses, as well as the opportunity to examine all witnesses and other relevant information and evidence.  The individual may elect to be represented by counsel or other appropriate advocate.

The DOAH impartial hearing officer will make a decision based on the policies and procedures of the Division. A written report of the findings will be provided to the individual or, if appropriate, his/her representative, within 30 days of completion of the hearing.

Except for time limitations established in law, reasonable time extensions may be provided for good cause shown at the request of either or both parties.

A decision made by the Commissioner of the Department of Education is final unless the party aggrieved by such decision brings a civil action in any state court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States of competent jurisdiction without regard to the amount of controversy.

RIGHTS UNDER THE IDEA LEGISLATION

Students who are blind or visually impaired and who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) prepared under the local school system are provided rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Rehabilitation specialists will inform parents of these rights and assist parents in receiving services.  The advocacy center can provide information regarding rights of school aged students.

Original signed by Joyce Hildreth, Director, on October 14, 2009