The EAAP Panel must approve any settlement. LEAs and other parties to an action that is proceeding pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act may request settlement discussions at any time during the appeal process, including during any prehearing conference. The parties to an appeal may also negotiate and present a proposed settlement by mailing the stipulation with original signatures for approval by the Panel. Unless OAH has played a role in the settlement process, there is no need to present the stipulation to the Administrative Law Judge.
While the parties may agree on a compromise figure, a settlement agreement may not make findings of fact, interpretations of law, or determinations of substantial compliance. Such findings would abrogate the fact finding and adjudicative process entrusted to the Panel, and an evidentiary hearing is required for the Panel to decide the ultimate issues in the case.
A settlement stipulation should include the:
- EAAP case number and OAH case number
- Audit year, and finding number(s) with original dollar amount(s) subject to the stipulation
- Settlement dollar amount(s) and any specific repayment schedule or terms
- Referenced attachments and/or exhibits
A stipulation should not:
- Predicate its result on any determinations the parties make as to factual or legal error in the audit finding, or belief that the appellant was in substantial compliance (judgments that only the Panel can make after a formal hearing).
- Cite audit guide sections in lieu of substantive law, if any citation to the law relating to the audit finding(s) is made. The audit guide provides direction to auditors; it does not establish legal requirements for LEAs.
- Direct the Department of Education on the manner or timing in which any offset should be made.
- Require approval by OAH before submission to EAAP.
- Include a statement that the appeal will be withdrawn if the settlement is approved by the Panel.
In circulating and signing the final version of the settlement stipulation, ensure that details such as case numbers, audit years, finding numbers, and amounts are accurately and consistently stated.
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