OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Use of Due Process Procedures After a Parent Has Filed a State Complaint

Improving results and achieving better outcomes for children with disabilities is an important goal for all of us. However, even where informal attempts to resolve differences are made, parents and public agencies may be unable to reach agreement on important matters when determining how to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA or the Act) and its implementing regulations provide specific options for resolving disputes, which should be used in a manner consistent with our shared goals of providing FAPE to, and achieving better outcomes for, children with disabilities. It has come to our attention that some public agencies may be filing due process complaints concerning the same issue that is the subject of an ongoing State complaint resolution, ostensibly to delay the State complaint process and force parents to participate in, or ignore at considerable risk, due process complaints and hearings. Increased costs and a potentially more adversarial and lengthy dispute resolution process are not in the best interest of children with disabilities and their families. Therefore, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education (Department) issues this letter to provide guidance that States, hearing officers, school districts, school staff, parents, and other stakeholders may find helpful in determining how to follow the IDEA dispute resolution procedures.
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