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Special Education Law: Challenging a District's Decision

Research Question 2

How do parents challenge a decision made by the school district?

Missouri Procedural Assistance

Missouri Statues and Regulations


Child Complaint to State Department of Education- 34 C.F.R. 300.153

  1. Any individual or organization can file a complaint with their state's education department.
    1. It must include:
      1. A statement that agency has violated IDEA
      2. Factual allegations against the agency
      3. Signature and contact information of complainant
      4. Proposed resolution of the complaint
  2. Once received, the Department send notice to the agency and requests documents and phone interviews to determine if an investigation is warranted.
  3. Department issues a decision letter to all parties within 60 days to declare if the Department will conduct an investigation.
  4. If an investigation is conducted, the Department determines if the agency is:
    1. In compliance
    2. Out of compliance, but the agency has remedied the problem with voluntary action
    3. Out of compliance and order a specific action to completed by a specified date
  5. This final decision may not be appealed.

Due Process Complaints in Missouri- 34 C.F.R. § 300.500-300.516; R.S.Mo. § 162.961
  1. File a Written Complaint to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
  2. DESE sends complaint to school district.
  3. Complaint is referred to the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC).
  4. Within 15 days, district must conduct a resolution meeting between complainants and the relevant memberso the IEP team.  The meeting may be waived if both complainant and district agree.
  5. If agreement is reached, the complainant must notify the AHC and formally withdaw the complaint.
  6. After the resolution meetings parties have 30 days to initiate mediation if parties agree.
  7. If successful, complaint must withdraw complaint with AHC.
  8. Within 45 days of receiving the complaint, the AHC will issue an opinion on the matter after hearings unless extension have been granted for mediation or investigation.  Extensions are routinely given.
  9. The losing party can file an appeal with in Missouri Circuit Court or Federal District Court and then will the case will proceed according to the Missouri Supreme Court Rules or Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.