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Filing a Complaint Against Your Child with Special Needs’ School

If your child has a disability such as autism, Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy, he may be entitled for special education services. However, after your child has been evaluated, you might not agree with the decision, or you might have a concern regarding your child with special needs’ education and wellbeing at school. If you cannot resolve the dispute by talking through the disagreement, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides a formal way to file a complaint against the school. It is called “due process.”

You have the right to file a complaint when you believe that the state or school district has violated a requirement of the IDEA. The complaint process can be effective in resolving conflicts with the school system and is less costly and intimidating than a hearing.

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.

Complaint Letter Requirements

  • 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 Complaint Letter

  • The date
  • Your child’s full 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
  • Your contact information, including email and phone number

Tips on Writing a Great Complaint Letter

You want to make a strong case so that the person reading your letter will understand your request and approve it. This person may not know you, your child, or your child’s situation, so make sure you write the details of the situation in clear language. Keep the tone of your letter pleasant and businesslike. Give the facts without letting anger, frustration, blame, or other negative emotions creep in. Use spell check and grammar check on your computer so everything is correct.

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 Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.

Contact us for help. Dial (877) 283-4807 or email us at [email protected]