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State Complaint Basics

Information on IDEA State Complaints




  • Advocates Talk Complaints
    A chat with two practicing special education 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)
  • Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc.
    Attorney Maria Blaeuer discusses complaints filed by her agency against DC Public Schools regarding failure to provide adequately trained personnel to teach students with disabilities. (28 mins)
  • Disability Rights California Complaint
    Attorney Robert Borrelle discusses a systemic complaint filed by his agency regarding failure to provide special education and related services during school closure due to COVID-19. (29 mins)
  • Native American Disability Law Center
    Attorney Alexis DeLaCruz discusses a systemic complaint filed by her agency regarding failure to provide special education and related services during school closure due to COVID-19. (36 mins)
  • Disability Law Colorado Complaint
    Attorneys Sara Pielsticker and Dan Stewart discuss a systemic complaint filed against the Colorado Dept. of Education alleging youth under age 21 who are eligible for special education services under the IDEA and have been incarcerated in county jails in the state of Colorado have been denied FAPE. (26 mins) Audio only version

Dispute Resolution Data

Policy Letters issued by the U.S. Dept. of Education

  • Letter to Oettinger: This March 2, 2023 letter addresses SEA obligations regarding complaints filed regarding a child who has graduated. (PDF)
  • Letter to Lipsitt: This September 2022 letter addresses
    the use of certain Federal court cases and OSEP correspondence when resolving State complaints. (PDF)
  • Dear Colleague Letter on Use of Due Process Procedures After a Parent Has Filed a State Complaint: This April 2015 letter clarifies IDEA dispute resolution procedures. (PDF)
  • Letter to Zirkel: This April 2022 letter addresses whether SEA written decision on alleged violations must take into consideration consistency with State guidance documents; and applicable case law.
  • 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 Zirkel: This July 2019 letter addresses a series of questions regarding a state educational agency’s (SEA’s) complaint procedures process, in particular, about enforcement actions and resolution of state complaints.
  • Letter to Zirkel: This May 2019 letter addresses a series of questions regarding the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) state complaint and due process hearing procedures.
  • Letter to Lipsitt: This April 2018 letter addresses the circumstances under which it would be appropriate for an SEA to consider compensatory services as a remedy in state complaints.
  • Letter to Lipsitt: This September 2015 letter clarifies that SEAs 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 McWilliams: This July 2015 letter to Michigan's Protection and Advocacy Services addresses how an SEA must apply state complaint procedures regarding services in IEPs.
  • Letter to Deaton: This May 2015 letter clarifies that SEAs 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 that complainants to not have the "burden of proof" in 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!