Learn How to Control the Outcome of a State Complaint

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I filed a complaint with my state department of education. The school claimed that the Behavior Intervention Plan was not valid because they had not attached the BIP to my son’s IEP.

The DOE found “no violation” because the BIP was not “attached to” or mentioned in the IEP.


  1. To be valid, does the law require the school to attach the BIP to the IEP?
  2. If the answer is “yes,” isn’t the IEP team responsible for ensuring that appropriate documents are in place?

Review the IEP statute (20 U.S.C. 1414(d); Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, p.99).

  • Does the law say that you must attach a Behavior Intervention Plan to an IEP?
  • Does the law say that you must incorporate it by reference into the IEP?

No, it does not.

Change one fact in this situation. The person with power (in this case, the state DOE employee) wants to rule in your favor. The school argued that the child’s IEP did not have the BIP attached.

As a good judge will do, this person in power would find a reason to rule in your favor.

The judge may find:

“The school district asserts that the BIP must be physically attached to the IEP as a matter of law. The law does not require that an IEP have the BIP attached to it. A BIP is clearly a part of the child’s educational plan as set forth in the IEP.

The parties relied on the BIP to be part of the child’s educational plan, so the BIP was clearly incorporated into the IEP by reference. Thus, the BIP is part of the IEP, even though it was not mechanically stapled to the IEP.

In the case above, the state DOE employee did not want to rule against the school district. If the BIP and IEP were attached by steel cables, the state DOE employee would find another reason to rule against the parent.

In our training programs, I explain that the facts and law do not control outcome. The decision-maker controls the outcome.

This happens all the time in litigation. The judge will find a way to rule for or against one party, regardless of the facts and the law.

Writing Due Process Complaint Letters and State ComplaintYou must make the decision-maker want to rule in your favor.

Need to draft a State Complaint letter?

Learn how to write compelling Due Process Claims or State Complaint letters that make a decision-maker want to rule in your favor.

In this live presentation Pete Wright teaches you how to create visual imagery to tell a story in your letter. Your letter may become the theme of your case. Watch the trailer.

Add to CartOrder now. Immediate download.

When parents write a compelling “Letter to the Stranger,” they can often accomplish this objective.

DOE guidance on state complaint procedures, regulatory requirements, and sample letters.


  1. Nobody mentioned whether a comprehensive functional behavior analysis was done prior to the behavioral intervention plan. Everything should have been discussed and planned during IEP meetings, right?
    Additionally, can a school initiate a BIP without conducting a FBA without the parents input and data from professionals familiar with the child? Often comorbid disorders complicate writing a good BIP.
    Is it always necessary to conduct an FBA and write a BIP if the behavior is clearly a part of the student’s disabilty? Can’t some of those issues be addressed through appropriate IEP goals?
    Trying to get documentation on previously tried interventions and ongoing compensatory strategies can be very difficult for parents.
    How do parents get the schools to write and document more clearly.

  2. We went to mediation this year to hash out the part of our state complaint that the DOE found to be in violation. Our mediator seemed to be impartial at first, then I noticed that start to change. He would not leave at the end of meetings (twice) and I waited outside in the parking lot to see when he would finally leave. Once he left one hour after the meeting and the other meeting I had to leave after waiting an hour and he was still there. We also observed him going to lunch with one of the teachers. He became openly hostile towards us in the last meeting as well. He and the Dir of Spec Ed. were always joking and laughing. I still cannot believe it! We ended up with very little in the end. Maybe I am just over-reacting, but I found his behavior unprofessional and he displayed partiality to the school district. Should I file a complaint?

  3. Even if the BIP is not actually attached to the IEP. Shouldn’t there be an annual goal in the IEP referencing the BIP to determine the effectiveness of the BIP?

  4. I’m confused. If IDEA has identified 13 categories of SpEd eligibility, why do individual states create their OWN list of categories, above and beyond those 13…???

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