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State Complaint Basics


State Complaint Procedures :: Questions and Answers
Overview of the IDEA State Complaint Procedures. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, July 23, 2013

Federal regulations regarding State Complaint Procedures
34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.151- Sec. 300.153 (2006)

IDEA Written State Complaints :: Guide for Parents and Families
Parent-friendly guide prepared by CADRE, January 2014 (PDF, 8 pgs)

IDEA Dispute Resolution Processes Comparison Chart
Chart prepared by CADRE comparing key elements of the dispute resolution options under the IDEA, January 2015 (PDF, 2 pgs)

Considerations and Concerns Prior to Filing a State Administrative Complaint
Six considerations from Kathleen B. Boundy, Co-Director, Center for Law and Education

Tips About Using the State Complaint Process
Ten tips from Sonja D. Kerr, Nationally-recognized Special Education Expert.

Extending State Complaint Timelines
A discussion of how to apply the "exceptional circumstances" provision to extend the timeline for resolving state complaints. Prepared by the Regional Resource Center (2010)(PDF)


Summary of dispute resolution data for 2017-2018 (PDF, 21 pgs.)

State dispute resolution data summaries for 2004-05 through 2017-18 produced by CADRE.






Advocates Talk Complaints
A chat with two advocates using state complaints as part of their advocacy practice (16 mins)

Upper Arlington, Ohio complaint
Attorney Kerry Agins & advocate Brenda Louisin discuss a state complaint filed by 17 families (29 mins)

Disability Rights Iowa Complaints
Nathan Kirstein, DRI staff attorney, discusses two complaints filed by his agency regarding facilities serving troubled youth in Iowa. (32 mins)

Policy Letters

Dear Colleague Letter on Use of Due Process Procedures After a Parent Has Filed a State Complaint: This April 2015 letter from the U.S. Dept. of Education clarifies IDEA dispute resolution procedures. (PDF)

Letter to Anonymous: This October 2019 letter clarifies that an SEA’s complaint decision to remedy the denial of appropriate services must be implemented even if the child relocates to another state. (PDF)

Letter to Lipsett: This September 2015 letter clarifies that State Educational Agencies must issue a written decision to the complainant even in cases where the complaint is resolved by accepting a proposal by the local educational agency. (PDF)

Letter to Deaton: This May 2015 letter clarifies that State Educational Agencies that require districts to take corrective action following a state complaint are not entitled to wait out a subsequent due process hearing before enforcing their orders. (PDF)

Letter to Reilly: This November 2014 letter to Maine's Disability Rights Center clarifies the "burden of proof" in investigations of state complaints. (PDF)

Every state offers information on filing IDEA written state complaints.
Be sure to read your state's guidance before filing a state complaint!