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My Child’s IEP Isn’t Being Followed. Should I File a Complaint?

iep complaintIf you are the parent of a child who has autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or another type of disability, you are your child’s best advocate to get him or her educational services. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many special education services have been modified to incorporate online learning and other changes. If you believe your child is not getting the services he or she needs according to the IEP, you can file a complaint through a due process hearing. But should you file an IEP complaint against the school?

Before You File an IEP Complaint

A good first step is to consult with a special education advocate or attorney to discuss your options. Most parents do not know their options or that they have options at all. And many times, we want to believe that things will work out in the end. Tragically, that is not always true.

You, as the parent acting on behalf of your child, have many options. The approach to improving your child’s services may vary depending on your child’s specific diagnosis, individual educational capacity, the school district’s resources or current individualized education program (IEP). An advocate or attorney is trained to know the best way to address the issue, so seek a consultation.

Due Process Representation

For parents with a child with a developmental disability, a due process hearing is one of the most important legal tools afforded to you. Unfortunately, few parents know that these hearings exist and even fewer use them. However, every child with special needs deserves an equal education and it’s important that you know how to use the due process system to enforce your child’s rights and win your case.

How the Due Process System Works

Children in California who have a disability are entitled to an education tailored to their specific needs. If your child requires specially-trained educators, tutors, or special learning programs, then the public school system is obliged to provide them. These needs are determined through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team meeting, but many schools simply refuse to provide the services outlined in the IEP.

Thankfully, there is an appeal system known as a due process hearing. If a parent and a school cannot come to an agreement over what level of specialized education is fair to provide, the two parties can go to a due process hearing before an impartial third party known as a hearing officer. Most hearing officers are attorneys with a background in education law.

The hearing officer’s decision can be appealed, but the due process system is an excellent tool for parents who children’s rights are being overrun.

Making Your IEP Complaint Matter

Very few parents take their child’s case to a due process hearing, which is tragic because the hearings cost nothing and can make a world of difference. Of the parents who do go to a hearing, however, the majority lose their case.

That may seem disheartening at first, but the factors that determine winning or losing a hearing are well understood. School districts can also initiate a hearing, which tends to go in their favor; parents who are proactive and take the first step are more likely to win.

More importantly, representation matters. Parents who go into a hearing alone are facing school district lawyers across from them with a knowledgeable attorney making the decision. Parents seldom have the background in law and experience necessary to win the case.

Parents who have an educational advocate for their hearing are far more likely to win. In fact, if they have a representative at initiate the hearing, they’re more likely to win than the school.

Get Help When You File an IEP Complaint

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 (888) 323-2133 or email us at [email protected]