Filing Complaints: Tactics & Tips

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In This Issue . . .

Circulation: 85,768
ISSN: 1538-320
April 6, 2011

The federal special education regulations require your state Department of Education to develop a system to provide information about state complaint procedures and how to resolve parent-school complaints.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 makes it illegal for public schools to discriminate against children with physical or mental disabilities. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for resolving complaints of discrimination.

Parents need to be careful when you use your state complaint system or OCR. If the investigator does not agree with your complaint, you may not be able to request a due process hearing on the same issue cited in your complaint.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, you'll find good advice about filing complaints, warnings to heed, and questions to ask before you decide whether to proceed.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other friends, families, or colleagues.

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What You Need to Know Before Filing a State Complaint

Before you file a complaint, be very, very certain that you will never want to file for a hearing on the same issue.

Give careful thought to what you will "win" if you win your complaint.

In 18 Tips for Filing Complaints, Pat Howey shares her experiences and opinions about filing a complaint with the state department of education.


How Can I File a Section 504 Complaint?

Be sure you know what you want if the complaint is found in your favor. If you don't ask for anything when you file your complaint, you will not get anything when it is resolved.

In Parent Wants to File a Complaint, Sue Whitney offers a plan to deal with a discrimination crisis. Sue answers questions about how to get an appropriate 504 Plan and ensure that the school implements the plan.


How to Resolve Parent-School Disputes

During IEP season, the frequency and intensity of conflict and disagreements between parents and schools increases. Conflict isn't pleasant, but it's normal and predictable.

In Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, you'll find a chapter about resolving parent-school disputes. In this chapter, you will learn:

* Strategies to resolve disagreements and disputes
* Steps to take if you disagree with the school
* Your options if you are unable to resolve your dispute

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Controlling the Outcome of a Complaint

In the complaint process, you must make the decision-maker want to rule in your favor.

In this article, Controlling the Outcome of a Complaint, Pete Wright explains that facts and law do not control the outcome of a complaint. Who controls the outcome? Read the article to find out!


Complaint Information & Procedures

Some state department of education employees are diligent about investigating complaints. Others don't view themselves as enforcers of the law. Some state DOE employees were employed by school districts, so they view school personnel as friends or colleagues.

You need to decide who you want to resolve your issue before you bring it up.

Model Form: IDEA Procedural Safeguards Notice includes the requirement for state complaint procedures (34 CFR §300.151 through 300.153).

Get a copy of your state's complaint procedures from your State Department of Education.

Here you'll find information on the Office of Civil Rights Complaint Process.

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Great Products From Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

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