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How Do I File a Complaint Against the School for My Child with Special Needs?

If your child has autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or another disability, she may be eligible for special education services. But what if, after your child has been evaluated, you do not agree with the decision? If you cannot resolve the dispute by talking through the disagreement, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides a formal way to make a complaint against the school. It is called “due process.”

A due process complaint is a letter filed by you, or someone on your behalf, when you disagree about whether your child was correctly determined to be disabled, whether he was evaluated properly, whether your child with special needs has been placed in the appropriate environment at school, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child was allocated.

Whenever a due process complaint is received, you and the local educational agency (LEA) involved in the dispute must have an opportunity for an impartial due process hearing. A due process hearing is a formal meeting held to resolve conflicts between parents and schools.

The Due Process Complaint Letter

  • Complaints must be written, signed, and include a statement that a public agency has violated a requirement of Part B of IDEA, as well as the facts upon which the statement is based
  • Complaints must include specific information. You may not have a hearing until you file a due process complaint that includes this information
  • You must provide a copy of the due process complaint letter to the school and forward a copy to the state educational agency
  • The information contained in the due process complaint must be kept confidential
  • There’s a time limit for filing a due process complaint

Information You Must Include in the Due Process Complaint Letter

  • Your child’s name
  • The address of your child’s residence
  • The name of the school your child is attending
  • A description of the issue your child is having related to the proposed action or refusal that’s causing the conflict, and facts upon which the complaint is based, and
  • A proposed resolution for the dispute

What Happens After You Submit the Due Process Complaint Letter

Within five days, a decision is made to determine whether the due process letter is legally sufficient and then you will be notified immediately in writing. If the hearing officer rules that the due process complaint is not sufficient, the decision will identify how the notice is insufficient so that you can amend the notice, if appropriate.

If the due process complaint is determined to be insufficient and is not amended, the due process complaint could be dismissed.

Due process takes time. If the situation isn’t resolved easily, you also may need an attorney or advocate. Understanding your legal rights and how due process works can help you decide if it’s the right path for you.

If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.

American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.

CONTACT US FOR HELP.

Dial (844) 255-4477 or email us at [email protected]