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Michelle:  How long should a due process complaint be? I feel like I’m writing a novel. It’s been six long years. Is it okay to include everything to give the hearing officer a picture of what my child has been through.

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Pat Howey

It should be noted that there is a big difference between a “Due Process Complaint” and a “State Complaint.” The first is a request for a hearing and requires much more information than the second. I recently drafted one upon the request of an attorney that was 31 pages long.

The second is a request for the state to make a determination regarding possible violations.

You should check your state special education code and education department website for specific instructions as to what is to be included in each and to whom each specific complaint must be sent.


Michelle, I self-represented twice now in 2 years in due process against the school district. In this state (Florida) it is a standard form, then I also attached a letter to go with the form. The letter I wrote for this was 4 pages long. Regardless of the length, what I found to be most important was to be very clear about what is in dispute and what you want the judge to do about it.


When I filed complaint with my state I was told by my advocate to Stick with the facts and with things I could prove, things I had documented…It is hard but Try not to get emotional with your complaint she told me to list problems in a 1 2 3 order. Write the complaint and with bullets underneath comment your proof…Mine was 3 pages long and the State board of education sided with me on all but 2 things I haven’t had any problems from our school since!!! Good luck to you I know it’s a frustrating journey!!!

Michelle, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who has special ed experience if you plan to represent yourself in a due process hearing. An attorney can explain what you should include in your request and what to expect. These things vary from one state to another.
The cost of a consult is usually small.


I knew when my child’s history alone was 14 pages, it was probably too long. I’ve been writing complaints for years against this school district. My wonderful state of Ohio always ruled against me but now I have more than enough evidence to prove they are violating IDEA. For example, after an IEP meeting in May, they took the PR-01 and wrote a whole page of what a bad person and bad mother I was or they won’t give her a grade card to show the grades she received for the work she had done during the school year.But I will meet with a lawyer before I send it in to make sure it is written correctly. I’m coming to the wrightslaw conference next Sunday in Columbus because I thought it would get help me prepare me for battle.


The state education agency’s website should have a sample form, with information that is required. Your state parent training & information center will be able to assist you. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/
There is no need to give a lot of detail now. That is what the hearing is for. The HO often hopes that mediation or the resolution meeting will resolve the disagreements & a hearing will not be needed.



I tried advocates and even an IEP facilitator. I would take advocates to IEP meetings and they would just sit there and say nothing while I was being verbally attacked and my child’s rights were been taken away. I even took an IEP facilitator. She would sit there too and say nothing or she would meet with me for five minutes and then meet with the school district for a half hour and I’d walk in and they would all sitting around laughing having a good time. So I decided I was done with advocates and IEP facilitators. LIke my grandmother used to say “sometimes you just have to go into battle like David vs.Goliath.”


Please consult with an experienced, vetted lawyer. You can find one on Wrightslaw or COPAA sites. Wite only pertinent info with maybe some exhibits,so that they can assess the complaint. They will ask for what they need. They are human beings – don’t make it difficult for them.