The regulations in this part govern the enforcement of legal requirements under applicable programs administered by the Department of Education and implement Part E of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA).
The following definitions apply to the terms used in this part:
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) means a judge appointed by the Secretary in accordance with section 451 (b) and (c) of GEPA.
Applicable program means any program for which the Secretary of Education has administrative responsibility, except a program authorized by -
(a) The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended;
(b) The Act of September 30, 1950 (Pub. L. 874, 81st Congress), as amended; or
(c) The Act of September 23, 1950 (Pub. L. 815, 81st Congress), as amended.
Department means the United States Department of Education.
Disallowance decision means the decision of an authorized Departmental official that a recipient must return funds because it made an expenditure of funds that was not allowable or otherwise failed to discharge its obligation to account properly for funds. Such a decision, referred to as a “preliminary departmental decision” in section 452 of GEPA, is subject to review by the Office of Administrative Law Judges.
OES means the OHA Electronic System or any successor system designated by the Department.
Party means either of the following:
(a) A recipient that appeals a decision.
(b) An authorized Departmental official who issues a decision that is appealed.
Recipient means the recipient of a grant or cooperative agreement under an applicable program.
Secretary means the Secretary of the Department of Education or an official or employee of the Department acting for the Secretary under a delegation of authority.
(a) The Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) established under section 451(a) of GEPA has jurisdiction to conduct the following proceedings concerning an applicable program:
(1) Hearings for recovery of funds.
(2) Withholding hearings.
(3) Cease and desist hearings.
(b) The OALJ also has jurisdiction to conduct other proceedings designated by the Secretary. If a proceeding or class of proceedings is so designated, the Department publishes a notice of the designation in the Federal Register.
(a) The Secretary appoints Administrative Law Judges as members of the OALJ.
(b) The Secretary appoints one of the members of the OALJ to be the chief judge. The chief judge is responsible for the efficient and effective administration of the OALJ.
(c) The chief judge assigns an ALJ to each case or class of cases within the jurisdiction of the OALJ.
(a) An ALJ assigned to a case conducts a hearing on the record. The ALJ regulates the course of the proceedings and the conduct of the parties to ensure a fair, expeditious, and economical resolution of the case in accordance with applicable law.
(b) An ALJ is bound by all applicable statutes and regulations and may neither waive them nor rule them invalid.
(c) An ALJ is disqualified in any case in which the ALJ has a substantial interest, has been of counsel, is or has been a material witness, or is so related to or connected with any party or the party's attorney as to make it improper for the ALJ to be assigned to the case.
(1) An ALJ may disqualify himself or herself at any time on the basis of the standards in paragraph (c) of this section.
(2) A party may file a motion to disqualify an ALJ under the standards in paragraph (c) of this section. A motion to disqualify must be accompanied by an affidavit that meets the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 556(b). Upon the filing of such a motion and affidavit, the ALJ decides the disqualification matter before proceeding further with the case.
(a) A hearing on the record is a process for the orderly presentation of evidence and arguments by the parties.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this part or in a notice of designation under § 81.3(b), an ALJ conducts the hearing entirely on the basis of briefs and other written submissions unless -
(1) The ALJ determines, after reviewing all appropriate submissions, that an evidentiary hearing is needed to resolve a material factual issue in dispute; or
(2) The ALJ determines, after reviewing all appropriate submissions, that oral argument is needed to clarify the issues in the case.
(c) At a party's request, the ALJ shall confer with the parties in person or by conference telephone call before determining whether an evidentiary hearing or an oral argument is needed.
(a) A person or organization, other than a party, that wishes to participate in a case shall file an application to participate with the ALJ assigned to the case. The application must -
(1) Identify the case in which participation is sought;
(2) State how the applicant's interest relates to the case;
(3) State how the applicant's participation would aid in the disposition of the case; and
(4) State how the applicant seeks to participate.
(b) The ALJ may permit an applicant to participate if the ALJ determines that the applicant's participation -
(1) Will aid in the disposition of the case;
(2) Will not unduly delay the proceedings; and
(3) Will not prejudice the adjudication of the parties' rights.
(c) If the ALJ permits an applicant to participate, the ALJ permits the applicant to file briefs.
(1) In addition to the participation described in paragraph (c) of this section, the ALJ may permit the applicant to participate in any or all of the following ways:
(i) Submit documentary evidence.
(ii) Participate in an evidentiary hearing afforded the parties.
(iii) Participate in an oral argument afforded the parties.
(2) The ALJ may place appropriate limits on an applicant's participation to ensure the efficient conduct of the proceedings.
A party to, or other participant in, a case may be represented by counsel.
(a) An ALJ may hold conferences of the parties in person or by conference telephone call.
(b) Any conference, hearing, argument, or other proceeding at which the parties are required to appear in person is held in the Washington, DC metropolitan area unless the ALJ determines that the convenience and necessity of the parties or their representatives requires that it be held elsewhere.
A party to, or other participant in, a case may not communicate with an ALJ on any fact in issue in the case or on any matter relevant to the merits of the case unless the parties are given notice and an opportunity to participate.
(a) To obtain an order or a ruling from an ALJ, a party shall make a motion to the ALJ.
(b) Except for a request for an extension of time, a motion must be made in writing unless the parties appear in person or participate in a conference telephone call. The ALJ may require a party to reduce an oral motion to writing.
(c) Parties must file motions with the ALJ, and serve them upon the other party, as provided under § 81.12.
(d) Except for a request for an extension of time, the ALJ may not grant a party's written motion without the consent of the other party unless the other party has had at least 21 days from the date of service of the motion to respond. However, the ALJ may deny a motion without awaiting a response.
(e) The date of service of a motion is determined by the standards for determining a filing date in § 81.12(d).
(a) Method of filing.
(1) Any written submission to an ALJ or the OALJ under this part, including pleadings, petitions, and motions, must be filed by submission to OES unless a party shows the ALJ good cause why its written submission cannot be filed electronically. A party filing electronically is responsible for ensuring that a complete and legible document was successfully submitted in a format for electronic filing permitted under OHA procedures.
(2) If the ALJ permits a party to file a written submission in paper format, the filing party must file the written submission with the ALJ or the OALJ by hand-delivery or regular mail.
(b) Filing date.
(1) The filing date for a written submission to an ALJ or the OALJ is the date the document is -
(i) Submitted to OES; or
(ii) Hand-delivered or mailed, if the ALJ has permitted the written submission to be filed in paper format.
(2) If a scheduled filing date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the filing deadline is the next business day.
(c) Service to other parties.
(1) The filing of a written submission to OES constitutes service on other parties.
(2) If a party is permitted by the ALJ to file a written submission in paper format, the party must serve a copy of the written submission on the other party on the filing date by hand-delivery or regular mail. Any such written submission to the ALJ or OALJ must be accompanied by a statement certifying that the material was served on the other party on the filing date.
[86 FR 52832, Sept. 23, 2021]
(a) Voluntary mediation is available for proceedings that are pending before the OALJ.
(b) A mediator must be independent of, and agreed to by, the parties to the case.
(c) A party may request mediation by filing a motion with the ALJ assigned to the case. The OALJ arranges for a mediator if the parties to the case agree to mediation.
(d) A party may terminate mediation at any time. Mediation is limited to 120 days unless the mediator informs the ALJ that -
(1) The parties are likely to resolve some or all of the dispute; and
(2) An extension of time will facilitate an agreement.
(e) The ALJ stays the proceedings during mediation.
(1) Evidence of conduct or statements made during mediation is not admissible in any proceeding under this part. However, evidence that is otherwise discoverable may not be excluded merely because it was presented during mediation.
(2) A mediator may not disclose, in any proceeding under this part, information acquired as a part of his or her official mediation duties that relates to any fact in issue in the case or any matter relevant to the merits of the case.
(a) If the parties to a case file a joint motion requesting a stay of the proceedings for settlement negotiations, or for approval of a settlement agreement, the ALJ may grant a stay of the proceedings upon a finding of good cause.
(b) Evidence of conduct or statements made during settlement negotiations is not admissible in any proceeding under this part. However, evidence that is otherwise discoverable may not be excluded merely because it was presented during settlement negotiations.
(c) The parties may not disclose the contents of settlement negotiations to the ALJ. If the parties enter into a settlement agreement and file a joint motion to dismiss the case, the ALJ grants the motion.
(a) The Federal Rules of Evidence do not apply to proceedings under this part. However, the ALJ accepts only evidence that is -
(3) Not unduly repetitious; and
(b) The ALJ may take official notice of facts that are generally known or capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.
(a) The parties to a case are encouraged to exchange relevant documents and information voluntarily.
(b) The ALJ, at a party's request, may order compulsory discovery described in paragraph (c) of this section if the ALJ determines that -
(1) The order is necessary to secure a fair, expeditious, and economical resolution of the case;
(2) The discovery requested is likely to elicit relevant information with respect to an issue in the case;
(3) The discovery request was not made primarily for the purposes of delay or harassment; and
(4) The order would serve the ends of justice.
(c) If a compulsory discovery is permissible under paragraph (b) of this section, the ALJ may order a party to do one or more of the following:
(1) Make relevant documents available for inspection and copying by the party making the request.
(2) Answer written interrogatories that inquire into relevant matters.
(3) Have depositions taken.
(d) The ALJ may issue a subpoena to enforce an order described in this section and may apply to the appropriate court of the United States to enforce the subpoena.
(e) The ALJ may not compel the discovery of information that is legally privileged.
(1) The ALJ limits the period for discovery to not more than 90 days but may grant an extension for good cause.
(2) At a party's request, the ALJ may set a specific schedule for discovery.
The privilege of a person or governmental organization not to produce documents or provide information in a proceeding under this part is governed by the principles of common law as interpreted by the courts of the United States.
(a) The ALJ arranges for any evidentiary hearing or oral argument to be recorded and transcribed and makes the transcript available to the parties. Transcripts are made available to non-Departmental parties at a cost not to exceed the actual cost of duplication.
(b) The record of a hearing on the record consists of -
(1) All papers filed in the proceeding;
(2) Documentary evidence admitted by the ALJ;
(3) The transcript of any evidentiary hearing or oral argument; and
(4) Rulings, orders, and subpoenas issued by the ALJ.
(a) A ruling by an ALJ may not be appealed to the Secretary until the issuance of an initial decision, except that the Secretary may, at any time prior to the issuance of an initial decision, grant review of a ruling upon either an ALJ's certification of the ruling to the Secretary for review, or the filing of a petition seeking review of an interim ruling by one or both of the parties, if -
(1) That ruling involves a controlling question of substantive or procedural law; and
(2) The immediate resolution of the question will materially advance the final disposition of the proceeding or subsequent review will be an inadequate remedy.
(1) A petition for interlocutory review of an interim ruling must include the following:
(i) A brief statement of the facts necessary to an understanding of the issue on which review is sought.
(ii) A statement of the issue.
(iii) A statement of the reasons showing that the ruling complained of involves a controlling question of substantive or procedural law and why immediate review of the ruling will materially advance the disposition of the case, or why subsequent review will be an inadequate remedy.
(2) A petition may not exceed 10 pages, double-spaced, and must be accompanied by a copy of the ruling and any findings and opinions relating to the ruling.
(c) If a party files a petition under this section, the ALJ may state to the Secretary a view as to whether review is appropriate by submitting a brief statement addressing the party's petition within 10 days of the ALJ's receipt of the petition for interlocutory review. The ALJ must serve a copy of the statement on all parties by submission to OES and, if the Secretary has permitted paper filing, by hand-delivery or regular mail.
(1) A party's response, if any, to a petition or certification for interlocutory review must be filed within seven days after service of the petition or certification, and may not exceed 10 pages, double-spaced, in length.
(2) A copy of the response must be filed to OES unless the party shows the Secretary good cause why the response cannot be filed electronically. If the ALJ permits a party to file a petition in paper format, the filing party must file the petition with OHA on behalf of the Secretary by hand-delivery or regular mail.
(3) If the Secretary has permitted a party to file the response in paper format, the party must file a copy of the response with the ALJ, and serve a copy of the response on all parties, on the filing date by hand delivery or regular mail.
(1) A party's response, if any, to a petition or certification for interlocutory review must be filed within seven days after service of the petition or certification, and may not exceed ten pages, double-spaced, in length. A copy of the response must be filed with the ALJ by hand delivery, by regular mail, or by facsimile transmission.
(2) A party shall serve a copy of its response on all parties on the filing date by hand-delivery or regular mail. If agreed upon by the parties, service of a copy of the response may be made upon the other parties by facsimile transmission.
(f) The filing of a request for interlocutory review does not automatically stay the proceedings. Rather, a stay during consideration of a petition for review may be granted by the ALJ if the ALJ has certified or stated to the Secretary that review of the ruling is appropriate. The Secretary may order a stay of proceedings at any time after the filing of a request for interlocutory review.
(g) The Secretary notifies the parties if a petition or certification for interlocutory review is accepted, and may provide the parties a reasonable time within which to submit written argument or other existing material in the administrative record with regard to the merit of the petition or certification.
(h) If the Secretary takes no action on a request for interlocutory review within 15 days of receipt of it, the request is deemed to be denied.
(i) The Secretary may affirm, modify, set aside, or remand the ALJ's ruling.