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State Complaint Basics

State Complaint Procedures

Excerpted from Dispute Resolution Procedures under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part B), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, July 23, 2013. Full document available at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/acccombinedosersdisputeresolutionqafinalmemo-7-23-13.pdf

Authority: The requirements for State complaint procedures are found in the regulations at 34 CFR §§300.151-300.153.


Question B-1: Why are States required to have complaint procedures when the IDEA statute does not contain those procedures? Show/Hide answer

Question B-2: What are some differences between a State complaint and a due process complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-3: Who may file a State complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-4: Are there any mechanisms that an SEA must provide to assist parents and other parties in filing a State complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-5: If a parent wishes to challenge a public agency's eligibility determination, may a parent file a State complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-6: How should an SEA resolve a State complaint challenging a public agency's eligibility determination? Show/Hide answer

Question B-7: If a parent wishes to challenge a public agency's decision regarding the provision or denial of FAPE to a child with a disability, may a parent file a State complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-8: How should an SEA resolve a State complaint challenging a public agency's decision regarding the provision or denial of FAPE to a child with a disability? Show/Hide answer

Question B-9: May the State complaint procedures, including the remedies outlined in 34 CFR §300.151(b), be used to address the problems of a group of children, i.e., a complaint alleging systemic noncompliance? Show/Hide answer

Question B-10: If there is a finding in a State complaint that a child or group of children has been denied FAPE, what are the remedies? Show/Hide answer

Question B-11: How does an SEA resolve a complaint when an organization or individual, other than a child's parent, files a State complaint regarding a specific child? Show/Hide answer

Question B-12: How does an SEA resolve a complaint against itself? Show/Hide answer

Question B-13: May States establish procedures permitting a State complaint to be filed electronically? Show/Hide answer

Question B-14: Must States have procedures for tracking when State complaints are received, including State complaints filed electronically, if applicable? Show/Hide answer

Question B-15: What is an SEA's responsibility to resolve a complaint if the complaint submitted to the SEA does not include all of the content required in 34 CFR §300.153? Show/Hide answer

Question B-16: May an SEA dismiss a complaint alleging systemic noncompliance because the complainant did not include a proposed resolution of the problem? Show/Hide answer

Question B-17: What is an SEA's responsibility to resolve a complaint if the complainant does not provide a copy of the complaint to the LEA or public agency serving the child at the same time the complaint is filed with the SEA? Show/Hide answer

Question B-18: May a complaint be filed with an SEA over an alleged violation that occurred more than one year prior to the date of the complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-19: Does an SEA have the option to accept and resolve complaints alleging violations of the IDEA that occurred more than one year prior to the SEA's receipt of the complaint? What is the SEA's responsibility if such a procedure is permitted? Show/Hide answer

Question B-20: Must an SEA conduct an independent on-site investigation for every complaint filed? Show/Hide answer

Question B-21: When can the SEA extend the 60-day time limit for resolution of a State complaint? Can OSEP identify examples of situations when States have not been permitted to extend the 60-day complaint resolution time limit due to exceptional circumstances? Show/Hide answer

Question B-22: Must an SEA make mediation available when a State complaint is filed? Show/Hide answer

Question B-23: What are the procedures related to an extension of the time limit for resolving a State complaint when the parties are engaged in mediation? Show/Hide answer

Question B-24: If the complainant is a party other than a parent, may the parties use the mediation process to attempt to resolve the issues in the State complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-25: Can an SEA dismiss allegations raised in a State complaint that were addressed in a previous settlement agreement resulting from mediation or the resolution process? Show/Hide answer

Question B-26: Can an issue that is the subject of a State complaint also be the subject of a due process complaint requesting a due process hearing? Show/Hide answer

Question B-27: If a parent has filed a State complaint and the State's resolution is still in process, can the parent request a due process hearing pending resolution of the State complaint? Show/Hide answer

Question B-28: May a State complaint be filed on an issue that was previously decided in a due process hearing? Show/Hide answer

Question B-29: May the State complaint procedures be used to resolve a complaint that alleges that a public agency has failed to implement a hearing officer's decision? Show/Hide answer

Question B-30: Once an SEA resolves a State complaint, what must the SEA's written decision contain? Show/Hide answer

Question B-31: What is the SEA's responsibility after a written decision on a State complaint is issued? Show/Hide answer

Question B-32: May a State complaint decision be appealed? Show/Hide answer

Question B-33: Is a State required to make written decisions on State complaints available to the public? Show/Hide answer

Question B-34: When did the Department remove the Secretarial review provision from the Part B regulations? Is an SEA required to develop a process to replace Secretarial review? Show/Hide answer

Key regulatory references related to the State complaint process, as cited above, can be found at http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home and include the following:

▪ 34 CFR §300.149
▪ 34 CFR §§300.151-300.153
▪ 34 CFR §300.199
▪ 34 CFR §§300.506-300.516
▪ 34 CFR §§300.530-300.532
▪ 34 CFR §300.537
▪ 34 CFR §300.600
▪ 34 CFR §§300.611-300.626