The Texas Education Agency (TEA) provides a complaint resolution process for special education complaints as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended. The IDEA is a federal law that requires states to ensure that children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Federal regulations require states to investigate written complaints of IDEA violations.
The IDEA was last amended in December 2004, effective July 1, 2005. The final IDEA regulations were issued in August 2006, effective October 13, 2006.
When a complaint is filed by a third party (someone other than the parent, legal guardian, or adult student), the complainant will be informed of the requirements of confidentiality and required to submit written authorization signed by the parent (or adult student) for the release of personally identifiable information about the student subject to the investigation.
A complaint must include a description of the how the complainant thinks the LEA violated special education requirements, facts or details about the alleged violation(s), and proposed solution to the problem (to the extent known and available to the complainant at the time the complaint is filed).Examples of allegations, supporting facts, and proposed solutions (Appendix A).
Under state law, a complaint that alleges an LEA’s refusal to provide special education services to an eligible student must be expedited to ensure that any educational services due to the student are initiated. Once a resolution is achieved (services are initiated for the eligible student), the allegations in the complaint will be investigated according to standard procedures. Expedited complaints will be resolved in less than 60 calendar days, if possible.
(1) Intake: Intake staff will review the complaint to determine if it contains all the requirements necessary for a complaint (see Question 2 or review the Checklist). The staff person will also contact the LEA to verify that it received a copy of the complaint. Once it is determined that all requirements for filing a complaint have been met, the complaint will be logged in and assigned to an investigator.
(2) Investigator Review: The assigned investigator will review the complaint to determine if the complaint alleges violations and supporting facts over which TEA has the authority to consider through the complaint resolution process. Specifically, the investigator will evaluate the following issues:
(3) Notice of Investigation and Request for Response: If TEA is proceeding with a complaint investigation, it will send the parties a Notice of Special Education Complaint Investigation and Request for Response letter that includes the allegations to be investigated, a request for information needed to conduct the investigation, the timelines associated with the investigation, and other relevant information. If the investigation will include an on-site visit, the notice letter to the LEA and complainant may provide details about a tentative visit schedule. The LEA will typically have 14 calendar days to respond and provide the requested information to TEA. The LEA may send a copy of its response and documentation to the complainant unless doing so would violate relevant laws regarding confidentiality. If the LEA does not provide the complainant with a copy of its response and documentation, the complainant may submit a written request for the information to either TEA or the LEA under the Texas Public Information Act. Information regarding public information requests may be accessed athttp://www.tea.state.tx.us/gir/PublicInfoMain.html.Please note that if the complaint is filed by a third party (someone other than the parent, legal guardian, or adult student), TEA may not issue any information that contains personally-identifiable information about a student unless the third party submits a written authorization signed by the parent of the student (or the adult student) for the release of personally identifiable information about the student.
If the parties are attempting to resolve the issues through local resolution, mediation, or an early resolution proposal, the parties should notify TEA of the status of their resolution efforts as promptly as possible. The timeline for a response, however, can only be suspended when the parties request mediation and agree to extend the timeline. The timeline cannot be extended when the parties are attempting other types of dispute resolution.
(4) Investigation: The assigned investigator will review the information from the LEA and any additional information provided by the complainant. The investigator may also gather information through informal fact finding and telephone or personal interviews. If TEA decides an on-site investigation is required, the assigned investigator will make arrangements with the parties for on-site interviews. The investigator’s interviews are informal and are typically not recorded electronically. The investigator may, however, take notes of the interviews.
(5) Investigative Report: TEA will issue a written decision called an Investigative Report. The assigned investigator and other complaints staff are involved in developing the final Investigative Report. The Investigative Report includes the following:
TEA will review all of the available information to determine whether the
LEA met the requirements of the IDEA and relevant state law. If TEA determines
that the LEA has violated an IDEA requirement, TEA will “substantiate”
the allegation (confirm that it is true).
With regard to allegations involving the appropriateness of an eligibility determination, an individualized education program (IEP), or a placement decision, TEA will first evaluate whether the LEA followed the required procedures to reach its determination, and second, whether the LEA reached a decision that is consistent with the IDEA in light of the child’s abilities and needs. TEA will find that the LEA has complied with the IDEA if the LEA has followed required procedures, applied required standards, and reached a determination that is reasonably supported by the child-specific data. Although decisions of the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD)/IEP team (ARD Committee, in Texas) cannot be overturned by TEA, TEA can order the ARD/IEP team to meet to determine FAPE for the child if it concludes that what has been offered does not meet the definition of FAPE. See Memorandum to Chief State School Officers 00-20 (OSEP, July 17, 2000).
What action will TEA take if it finds a violation?
TEA’s corrective action (what needs to be done by the LEA to correct the problem) will depend on the type of violation found. TEA may require the LEA to conduct an evaluation or take other specific action to correct a violation concerning an individual child.
TEA may require the LEA to hold an ARD/IEP meeting (ARD committee meeting, in Texas) to consider certain educational needs of the child. If the violation resulted in a lack of appropriate services for the child, TEA may order compensatory services, monetary reimbursement for educational expenses, or other corrective action appropriate to the needs of the child. TEA may also order the LEA to hold an ARD/IEP meeting to work out the details of compensatory services, reimbursement, or other corrective action.
In situations where there has been sustained conflict, some parties have found it beneficial to use a meeting facilitator to assist with an ARD/IEP meeting ordered by TEA as part of corrective action.
Other corrective action TEA may require includes staff training, a change in policies or practices, self-assessment, periodic monitoring, or reporting on implementation. It should be noted that TEA may not charge penalties or fines as part of corrective action.
Compensatory services are future services to be provided to a student to make up or compensate for an LEA’s failure to provide the student with appropriate services in the past. The length or amount of a student's compensatory services award is determined by either TEA or the ARD/IEP team and is based on the student's individual needs and circumstances. A compensatory services award must be reasonably calculated to bring the student to the position the student would have been in if the appropriate services had been provided in the first place.
Reimbursement means paying the parent back for services that the parent purchased privately because the LEA did not give appropriate services to the child.
When any allegations in a complaint are substantiated (determined to be true), TEA will require the LEA to implement corrective action to address the issues. The Investigative Report will include timelines for implementation of the corrective action, and TEA staff will monitor the implementation to ensure that it is completed in a timely manner. TEA typically requires the LEA to submit within 30 days of the date of the Investigative Report a plan and timeline for implementation of the corrective action. An LEA that fails to implement corrective action as ordered will be subject to interventions and sanctions under 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 89.1076.
Yes. TEA also provides mediation and due process hearing services. Information about these services is available online at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/special.ed/medcom/.
Complaint investigations and due process hearings differ in several significant respects as outlined in the table below.
|Complaints||Due Process Hearings|
|Who May File||Any individual or organization||Only parents or public agencies|
|Form of proceeding||A desk audit of information provided by the parties and other fact finding by TEA staff||A formal administrative hearing (i.e., the parties have an opportunity to present witness testimony under oath, cross-examine witnesses, and offer and object to evidence) before an impartial hearing officer, who is not a TEA employee|
|Standard applied||TEA evaluates whether the LEA has complied 100% with the statutory and regulatory requirements and notes any instances of noncompliance||A hearing officer evaluates whether the LEA provided FAPE to the student|
|Appeal||No appeal process||Adverse decisions may be appealed to state or federal court|
|Record||No formal record of proceeding is made||A formal record of proceeding is made|
|Addressing noncompliance||TEA imposes corrective action for violations found||A hearing officer issues a decision and an order that sets out any relief granted|
Yes, but any allegations in a complaint that are the subject of a due process hearing must be set aside by TEA until the conclusion of the due process hearing and the subsequent re-filing of the complaint in accordance with regulatory guidelines. The 60-calendar day timeline for the investigation will begin on the date that a new complaint is filed with the Agency. The one-calendar year statute of limitations for the investigation will be based on the date of the new filing. If there are remaining issues in the complaint that are not part of a pending due process hearing, TEA is required to resolve those issues within the 60-calendar day timeline discussed above in Question No. 4. If an issue raised in a complaint has previously been decided in a due process hearing involving the same parties, the due process hearing decision is binding on that issue.
The IDEA does not require that state complaint resolution processes provide parties with a right to appeal a decision. TEA’s complaint resolution process does not include an appeal procedure for parties who disagree with a decision. TEA’s process does, however, allow parties the opportunity to request that specific errors be corrected. A party who believes that an Investigative Report contains an error must inform TEA in writing within ten calendar days of the date of the Investigative Report. A request for correction must contain the following to be considered:
A party submitting a request for correction must simultaneously send the request to the other party subject to the complaint. The other party subject to the complaint may respond to the request for correction within ten calendar days after the date the Agency received the request. Requests for correction and responses that are not received within the applicable deadlines will not be reviewed. TEA will respond to a request for correction within 30 calendar days of receipt of the request. If TEA determines that an error occurred and that correcting the error changes the result of a decision, it will issue an Amended Investigative Report.
Note: Filing a request for correction does not delay the implementation of corrective actions ordered in an Investigative Report. Accordingly, a school district must implement any corrective actions ordered even if it files a request for correction.
Note: Filing a complaint does not prevent a parent from later requesting a due process hearing. A parent may request a due process hearing when she or he disagrees with the identification, evaluation, educational placement or provision of a free appropriate public education to a child who may be disabled. A request for a due process hearing must be filed within one year of the date the complainant knew or should have known about the alleged action that serves as the basis for the hearing request.
|Allegation||Supporting Facts||Proposed Solution|
|The school district did not implement some of the services included in my child’s IEP.||My child’s current IEP includes 30 minutes per week of speech services, and I heard at a parent-teacher conference that my child has not seen the speech therapist all year.||Provide make-up speech services to my child.|
|The school district has failed to make my child’s IEP accessible to his regular education teachers.||For two months after my child’s IEP was developed, the regular education teachers did not have access to the IEP and did not implement the areas for which they are responsible.||Make sure that the regular education teachers have access to the IEP and are implementing it. Provide any make-up services that may be needed.|
|The regular education teachers refuse to accommodate my child’s learning disability.||My 11th grade daughter has a specific learning disability. Her October 2006 IEP states that teachers will let her have extra time to complete assignments and allow her to take tests in the resource room so that they can be read to her. Her teachers are not providing these accommodations.||Provide training to the regular education teachers and make sure that they implement my child’s IEP.|
|The school district has not adequately reviewed and revised my child’s IEP.||My 8th grade son is going into the second year with the same IEP even though he did not make the expected progress after the first year.||Convene an ARD committee meeting to discuss whether the annual goals were achieved and revise the IEP as appropriate.|
|The school district does not complete special education evaluations within 60 school days.||I asked for a special education evaluation because my 6th grade son has had a difficult transition to middle school and is failing his classes. I signed a consent form when I met with the school counselor in October 2006. It has been six months, and I have not yet received the results of the testing.||Provide a copy of the evaluation and have a meeting with the appropriate professionals to consider the results.|
|Not all of the required members of the IEP team participated in developing my child’s IEP.||No regular education teacher attended the September 2006 ARD committee meeting at which my child’s IEP was developed even though my child participates in the regular education program.||Ensure that at least one regular education teacher attend an ARD committee meeting to develop my child’s IEP.|
Special Education Main Page
Texas Education Agency | Division of IDEA Coordination
1701 North Congress Avenue | Austin, Texas 78701-1494
Telephone: 512.463.9414 | Fax: 512.463.9560
Parent Information Line: 1.800.252.9668
Updated: March 21, 2008 | Created: November 19, 2007
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