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State Complaint Basics

FEDERAL REGULATIONS REGARDING IDEA STATE COMPLAINTS

(Also availalbe in PDF)

34 CFR Part 300 Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities and Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities

Sec. 300.151 Adoption of State complaint procedures.

(a) General. Each SEA must adopt written procedures for--
(1) Resolving any complaint, including a complaint filed by an organization or individual from another State, that meets the requirements of Sec. 300.153 by--
(i) Providing for the filing of a complaint with the SEA; and
(ii) At the SEA's discretion, providing for the filing of a complaint with a public agency and the right to have the SEA review the public agency's decision on the complaint; and
(2) Widely disseminating to parents and other interested individuals, including parent training and information centers, protection and advocacy agencies, independent living centers, and other appropriate entities, the State procedures under Sec. Sec. 300.151 through 300.153.
(b) Remedies for denial of appropriate services. In resolving a complaint in which the SEA has found a failure to provide appropriate services, an SEA, pursuant to its general supervisory authority under Part B of the Act, must address--
(1) The failure to provide appropriate services, including corrective action appropriate to address the needs of the child (such as compensatory services or monetary reimbursement); and
(2) Appropriate future provision of services for all children with disabilities.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3 )

Sec. 300.152 Minimum State complaint procedures.

(a) Time limit; minimum procedures. Each SEA must include in its complaint procedures a time limit of 60 days after a complaint is filed under Sec. 300.153 to--
(1) Carry out an independent on-site investigation, if the SEA 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 public agency with the opportunity to respond to the complaint, including, at a minimum--
(i) At the discretion of the public agency, a proposal to resolve the complaint; and
(ii) An opportunity for a parent who has filed a complaint and the public agency to voluntarily engage in mediation consistent with Sec. 300.506;
(4) Review all relevant information and make an independent determination as to whether the public agency is violating a requirement of Part B of the Act or of this part; and
(5) Issue a written decision to the complainant that addresses each allegation in the complaint and contains--
(i) Findings of fact and conclusions; and
(ii) The reasons for the SEA's final decision.
(b) Time extension; final decision; implementation. The SEA's procedures described in paragraph (a) of this section also must--
(1) Permit an extension of the time limit under paragraph (a) of this section only if--
(i) Exceptional circumstances exist with respect to a particular complaint; or
(ii) The parent (or individual or organization, if mediation or other alternative means of dispute resolution is available to the individual or organization under State procedures) and the public agency involved agree to extend the time to engage in mediation pursuant to paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this section, or to engage in other alternative means of dispute resolution, if available in the State; and
(2) Include procedures for effective implementation of the SEA's final decision, if needed, including--
(i) Technical assistance activities;
(ii) Negotiations; and
(iii) Corrective actions to achieve compliance.
(c) Complaints filed under this section and due process hearings under Sec. 300.507 and Sec. Sec. 300.530 through 300.532.
(1) If a written complaint is received that is also the subject of a due process hearing under Sec. 300.507 or Sec. Sec. 300.530 through 300.532, or contains multiple issues of which one or more are part of that hearing, the State must set aside any part of the complaint that is being addressed in the due process hearing until the conclusion of the hearing. However, any issue in the complaint that is not a part of the due process action must be resolved using the time limit and procedures described in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.
(2) If an issue raised in a complaint filed under this section has previously been decided in a due process hearing involving the same parties--
(i) The due process hearing decision is binding on that issue; and
(ii) The SEA must inform the complainant to that effect.
(3) A complaint alleging a public agency's failure to implement a due process hearing decision must be resolved by the SEA.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3)

Sec. 300.153 Filing a complaint.

(a) An organization or individual may file a signed written complaint under the procedures described in Sec. Sec. 300.151 through 300.152.
(b) The complaint must include--
(1) A statement that a public agency has violated a requirement of Part B of the Act or of this part;
(2) The facts on which the statement is based;
(3) The signature and contact information for the complainant; and
(4) If alleging violations with respect to a specific child--
(i) The name and address of the residence of the child;
(ii) The name of the school the child is attending;
(iii) In the case of a homeless child or youth (within the meaning of section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)), available contact information for the child, and the name of the school the child is attending;
(iv) A description of the nature of the problem of the child, including facts relating to the problem; and
(v) A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time the complaint is filed.
(c) The complaint must allege a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date that the complaint is received in accordance with Sec. 300.151.
(d) The party filing the complaint must forward a copy of the complaint to the LEA or public agency serving the child at the same time the party files the complaint with the SEA.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1221e-3)

Sec. 300.509 Model forms.

(a) Each SEA must develop model forms to assist parents and public agencies in filing a due process complaint in accordance with Sec. Sec. 300.507(a) and 300.508(a) through (c) and to assist parents and other parties in filing a State complaint under Sec. Sec. 300.151 through 300.153. However, the SEA or LEA may not require the use of the model forms.

(b) Parents, public agencies, and other parties may use the appropriate model form described in paragraph (a) of this section, or another form or other document, so long as the form or document that is used meets, as appropriate, the content requirements in Sec. 300.508(b) for filing a due process complaint, or the requirements in Sec. 300.153(b) for filing a State complaint.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1415(b)(8) )