How to File a Complaint

Complaint Form

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There are many different situations that call for the filing of a complaint under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). If you believe that your school district has failed to meet its IDEA obligations or has grossly violated your child’s rights, file an official complaint within a year of the violation.

How to Write the Complaint Letter

Use the formal business letter format for your complaint letter. As upset as you might be with the school district, it’s important to keep your emotions out of it. Instead, state that you request an investigation into IDEA violations by the school district. Using concise sentences, describe what the violation was and when it occurred. For example, if you requested an IEP meeting and the school failed to provide one, state the date of the request and state that the school did not contact you for a meeting.

Writing a Complaint Letter

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Information to Include

Always include your full name and contact information, your child’s full name, school, and the school district. After describing each violation, state the specific section of the IDEA law that applies to the violation. After listing the violations, describe the actions that you expect to be taken on your child’s behalf. For example, if the school failed to hold an IEP meeting, state that you request a meeting to be held in x amount of days. If you were forced to hire an attorney or a private speech-language pathologist (SLP) as a direct result of the IDEA violation, you may wish to request reimbursement.

Where to File the Complaint

Contact your state’s Department of Education to ask about the process for filing an IDEA complaint. The agency will provide you with a mailing address. The agency can also answer any questions you have about the process, such as when you may expect a response and how the complaint will be handled. In some states, the school district may handle the investigation initially. Ask if you can request an impartial investigator with no ties to the school district.

Stacks of IEP Paperwork

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After Filing the Complaint

Once your complaint letter is processed, you will be contacted for a meeting with the investigator. This is your opportunity to flesh out the details of the violation and provide any physical evidence that you have. Ideally, you should have copies of all written correspondence with the school. You may have a copy of a letter that you sent to the school requesting an IEP meeting, for example. The investigator will review all of your evidence and allegations. He will meet with the school district to discuss their point of view of the issues.

You will receive a decision within 60 days of filing your complaint, as per IDEA law. Under certain circumstances, the timeline may be extended. If the investigator finds in your favor, he will present guidelines that the school district must follow to remedy the situation and to be in compliance with the IDEA law.

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