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Making a state complaint under IDEA

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The federal regulations for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes many provisions to protect the rights of parents and their child with a disability while also giving families and school systems means by which to resolve disputes. These rights are known as procedural safeguards. Parents have specific rights under this law to make a state complaint under 34 CFR &300.506.

The regulations for Part B of IDEA set separate procedures for State complaints and for due process complaints and hearings. Any individual or organization may file a State complaint alleging a violation of any Part B requirement by a school district, the Department of Education or any other public agency receiving this type of funding by the federal government. The staff of the Department of Education must resolve a State complaint within a 60 calendar day timeline unless the timeline has been properly extended.

Only you or the school district may file a due process complaint on any matter relating to a proposal or refusal to initiate the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a student with a disability, or the provision of a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to the student. The timeline for a due process complaint to be resolved, if not resolved through a resolution meeting or through the mediation process, is shorter. An impartial hearing due process hearing officer must hear the due process complaint and issue a written decision within 45 calendar days after the end of the resolution period unless the hearing officer grants a specific timeline extension at the parents’ request or the request of the school district.

Under IDEA 34 CFR &300.151, the Department of Education must have written procedures for resolving any complaint, including a complaint filed by an organization or individual from another State. This information must be widely disseminated to parents and other interested individuals including parent training and information centers, protection and advocacy agencies, independent living centers and other appropriate places.

In resolving a State complaint in which the Department of Education has found a failure to provide appropriate services, the Department of Education must address the failure to provide appropriate services, including the corrective action to be taken to address the needs of the student as well as provide these appropriate services in the future for all children with disabilities.

The Department of Education must include in its State complaint procedures a time limit of 60 days after the complaint is filed to do the following:
1. Carry out an independent on-site investigation, if the department determines that an investigation is necessary;
2. Give the complainant the opportunity to submit additional information, either orally or in writing, about the allegations in the complaint;
3. Provide the school district or other public agency with the opportunity to respond to the complaint including, at a minimum the option of the agency, a proposal to resolve the complaint and an opportunity for a parent and the agency to agree voluntarily to engage in mediation;
4. Review all relevant information and make an independent determination as to whether the school district or other public agency is violating a requirement of Part B of the IDEA; and
5. Issue a written decision to the complainant that addresses each allegation in the complaint and contains findings of fact and conclusions as well as the reasons for the Department of Education’s final decision.

The timeline of 60 calendar days for the Department of Education to resolve a State complaint may be extended only if exceptional circumstances exist with respect to the complaint or the parent, school district or other public agency involved voluntarily agree to extend the timeline to resolve the matter through mediation or an alternative means of dispute resolution, if available in the State.

The Department of Education must include procedures for effective implementation of their final decision and if needed, provide technical assistance activities, negotiations and corrective actions to achieve compliance.

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