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Special Education Dispute Resolution Processes

 

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) offers three formal processes for resolving disputes related to special education: mediation, special education complaints, and due process hearings.  Information for these three processes is presented below.  

 

Mediation 

 

TEA is required by state and federal law to offer mediation to parties who have a disagreement involving the educational program for a student with a disability. Mediation is completely voluntary, meaning that both parties must agree to participate in mediation. TEA automatically offers mediation each time a special education complaint or due process hearing request is filed, but mediation may be requested at any time. For information on how to request mediation go to the Office of Legal Services, Special Education Mediation Program.  

Complaint Resolution  

                    

If you believe a public agency, including TEA, has violated federal or state requirements related to special education, you may file a complaint with TEA.

How to File a Complaint? 

In order for TEA to conduct an investigation, you must write and sign your complaint. The complaint must include the violations you believe have occurred and the facts to support the violations. A complaint form is available in English and Spanish for your use. You do not have to use this form to file a complaint.  You must hand deliver, mail, or fax the complaint to TEA. TEA cannot accept special education complaints by email. 

In addition, whether you use the complaint form or write your own letter, the law requires you to send a copy of your complaint to the public agency against which you are filing the complaint.

Where Should You Send Your Complaint? 

Complaints must be hand delivered, mailed, or faxed to: 

Texas Education Agency | Division of Federal and State Education Policy 
1701 North Congress Avenue 
Austin, Texas 78701-1494 
Fax (512) 463-9560

Complaint Investigation Forms 

 English | Spanish (Word) | English (PDF 37.51) | Spanish (PDF 37.51)

 additional allegations (English) or additional allegations(Spanish)

The Word version of the form has been designed for you to complete offline, print, sign, and send to the public agency and to TEA. The boxes on the form will expand as you type. The PDF version of the form has been designed for you to download, print, complete by hand, sign, and send to the public agency and to TEA. You may attach additional pages if needed.

A checklist has been developed to ensure you submit all required information in order for TEA to investigate your special education complaint.

Note: A complaint investigation and mediation can be requested at the same time. If you request a complaint investigation and a due process hearing on the same issues, your complaint investigation request will remain on hold until the due process hearing has ended. 

Instructions for the Complaint Investigation Form 

There are five sections to the complaint form.

Section One: Student Information 

If you are requesting a complaint investigation for one student, you must complete the "Student Information" section. Provide the student's complete name, mailing address, phone numbers, and the name of the school where the student attends or attended school. The name of the student's school district and the student's date of birth are optional, but are requested for identification purposes. If you are requesting a complaint investigation for more than one student, skip the "Student Information" section and complete the rest of the form.

In the case of a homeless child or youth (within the meaning of section 752 [2] of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act [42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)]), provide all available contact information for the student and the name of the school the student is attending.

Section Two: Complainant Information 

The complainant is the individual or organization filing the complaint. The complainant may file as a third party on behalf of students. The complainant must provide his/her complete name and contact information. The requested optional information is useful for determining whether the student's educational information may be disclosed to the complainant under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Section Three: Complaint Information 

The complaint must allege a special education violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), its implementing regulations, and/or special education requirements in the Texas Education Code (TEC) or Texas Administrative Code (TAC). The violation must have occurred not more than one year prior to the date the complaint is received at the TEA. The complainant must describe, in detail, each act that is an alleged violation of special education requirements in the IDEA, TEC, and/or TAC, including when the act occurred and any other events that are relevant to the allegation. For a complaint investigation, the complainant should describe what documents would be helpful for TEA to review. Finally, you must provide a proposal for resolution of the allegation or to the problem.

Please note that the special education complaints process cannot address concerns related to:

  • personnel issues or assignments,
  • teaching/instructional methodology,
  • parental access to the campus, or
  • other local matters of concern.

These types of issues may be addressed to campus or district-level administration and/or through the district's local grievance process.

Additionally, please note that the special education complaints process also cannot address concerns related to:

  • discrimination,
  • harassment,
  • retaliation, or
  • Section 504 determination or services.

These types of issues may be addressed to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, which can be reached at 214-661-9600. 

Finally, the special education complaints process cannot address concerns related to abuse and/or neglect of students. Issues related to abuse or neglect of students must be addressed to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400.

Section Four: Signature 

By federal regulation, the complainant must sign the request for complaint investigation.

Section Five: Notification for Complaint Investigation 

By federal regulation, the complainant must send a copy of the request for complaint investigation to the public agency against which the complaint is filed. Indicate to whom in the public agency the copy of the complaint letter was sent and when the complaint letter was sent.

Special Education Complaint Checklist  

Complete the following actions in order for TEA to investigate your special education complaint.

  • You have provided:
    •  the student’s name, contact information, and name of the school the student attends
    • your name, address, and contact information where you can be reached
    • detailed information as to when, where, and how the alleged violation took place; and
    • a proposed solution to the problem.
  • You have signed your complaint.
  • You have provided a copy of your complaint to the public agency against which the complaint is filed.
  • You have submitted your complaint (hand delivered, mail, or fax) in time for it to be received by the TEA no later than ONE YEAR after the last act or event of which you are complaining.

Due Process Hearings 

A special education due process hearing is a formal legal process similar to going to trial in a court. A district or parent may request a due process hearing when a parent or the district do not agree about the identification, evaluation, educational placement or services of a student with a disability or when the parties disagree on the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the student. For information on how to request a due process hearing, go to the Office of Legal Services, Special Education Due Process Hearing Program. 

Technical Assistance for the Dispute Resolution Processes 

 

For questions related to special education complaints, please contact the Division of Federal and State Education Policy: 

Telephone: (512) 463-9414 or Fax: (512) 463-9560

For questions related to mediations or due process hearings, please contact the Division of Legal Services:

Telephone: (512) 463-9720 or Fax: (512) 475-3662 

 

Additional Information Related to Special Education Dispute Resolution 

Special Education Dispute Resolution Systems Handbook 

Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) National Technical Assistance Center on Dispute Resolution

Q&A on Procedural Safeguards and Due Process Procedures Guidance from the CADRE Website

For Individuals Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:

TTY Number: (512) 475-3540 | Relay Texas 7-1-1

 

Page last modified on 7/2/2014 09:04:21 AM.