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What is a state complaint, and why would I file one?

In addition to the two methods of resolving conflicts with the school system through mediation and due process, there is a third method. You also have the right to file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), you have the right to file a complaint when you believe that your school district has violated a requirement of the IDEA. The ODE must investigate your complaint and decide whether the school violated your or your child's rights within 60 calendar days (not business days) from the day ODE received the complaint, unless there are exceptional circumstances with respect to the complaint. The complaint process can resolve conflicts with the school without the costs and time typically involved in a due process hearing.

You can file a complaint with the ODE within one year from when the school has violated the IDEA. However, if you file a complaint on an issue that is also part of a current due process hearing, the due process hearing takes priority over the complaint process and the ODE will only investigate those issues in your complaint that are not part of your due process hearing. Some examples of issues you might write a complaint letter about include:

  • Your school has not provided a service listed on your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Your school will not provide your child with opportunities to be educated with children who do not have disabilities.
  • The school failed to include you in decisions about your child's education.
  • You have a decision from a hearing officer that the school district is not implementing.

When writing a letter, it is best if you are able to identify the requirements of IDEA that the school has violated. However, ODE will identify the parts of the statute at issue regardless of whether the section of law is included in your complaint.

The Ohio Department of Education has a form you can use to file a complaint. You can also submit a letter using the template below.

Sample Letter

Date (include month, day, and year)

Ohio Department of Education
Office for Exceptional Children
Procedural Safeguards Section
25 South Front Street, 2nd Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-4183

Re: State Complaint Against (Your School District)

Dear Director (name),

I am writing to make a formal complaint on behalf of my (son/daughter), (child's name), regarding (his/her) education in the (name of school district). The nature of my complaint is as follows:

  • Explain the problem with brief statements of fact.
  • Consider listing the facts that support your complaint with numbers.

Optional information to add to your letter: For the above reasons, I believe the school district is in violation of certain requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), specifically: list the requirements of IDEA you feel the school system has violated. For example,

The school system has violated the following requirements of the IDEA:

  • to consider whether my child needs assistive technology services or devices, as required by Section 300.346;
  • to make available to my child assistive technology services and devices, as required by Section 300.308; and
  • to include in my child's IEP a statement of the special education, related services and supplementary aids and services, including assistive technology, that he/she needs as required by Section 300.347.

Enclosed are copies of relevant documents and correspondence I have sent to and received from the school district concerning this matter. These documents are (list the documents you have enclosed, giving the date sent, by whom, to whom, and the issue discussed.)

(If helpful, you can also list people with information who can support your complaint, such as an advocate who was an IEP meeting participant or private providers of services to your child).

Corrective Action

To remedy these violations (name of child's school district) should be required to (List the ways that you think the school district should be required to remedy the situation. Some examples of corrective action include:

  • Reimburse me for the cost of summer tutoring at a private learning center;
  • Reimburse me for the cost of transporting my child to and from school during the 2002-2003 school year;
  • Reimburse me for the cost of the Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE);
  • Convene the IEP to: review evaluations and eligibility; determine appropriate goals and objectives that are individualized and measurable; and develop specific criteria by which to measure and report progress.)

Please provide me with copies of any information you obtain in the process of investigating my complaint. If you need further information or clarification about my complaint, I can be reached at (give your phone number). Thank you.

Your Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code
Daytime telephone number

cc: school district special education director; your child's principal; your advocate/attorney

Enclosures: (list documents that are enclosed with the letter)

Return to list of Sample Letters

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