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Parties may wish to call the student to testify, or parents may want the student to attend the hearing as an observer and/or to meet the panel members.
Students generally do not attend OSET mediations or hearings. However, they may attend the hearing if the parent or the board requests it. Before the hearing starts, the parties should discuss with the panel chair:
Before deciding whether to bring the student to the hearing, parents should determine the purpose of having the student attend. These reasons could include:
If the student is called as a witness by the parents, the student will be sworn in as a witness and may be questioned by the board or its representative as well as the panel. The student may express an opinion as to which placement and what special education services and programs he or she would prefer.
Hearings can be long and complicated, and may be stressful. Age and attention span are factors that should influence the parents' decision to bring the student to observe a hearing.
A student who is 16 years or older is entitled to decide whether to appear as a witness without parental approval.
It is important that the parents talk to the student about the hearing, including:
Depending on the student's age and attention span, parents should consider bringing another adult to the hearing to support the student. It may be particularly helpful to have a support person if the student is called as a witness. The parent who presents the case to the tribunal or is engaged in instructing a representative cannot act as a support person.
Consider allowing the student to visit the hearing room in advance. Contact the OSET to request access to the hearing room. If the student requires any accommodations at the hearing, parents should inform the OSET so that arrangements can be made in advance.
If the OSET asks for the student to attend the hearing, arrangements will usually be made in co-operation with the parents.
Parents should provide the student with advice on how to be a witness, including encouraging him or her to do the following:
See also: Practice Direction: Student as a Witness