The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations require states to have a system to resolve disputes between parents of students with disabilities and local school districts.
As part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL) is updating its guidance regarding dispute resolution processes available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Usually, parents and school personnel have a good relationship in which they work together to make decisions about a child’s education. However, there may be times when parents and school personnel do not agree. Often, these disagreements can be resolved by a meeting between the parents and a school representative. By working together informally, parents and school personnel are able to maintain a positive relationship and can usually resolve their disagreement more quickly than they can address the matter through a more formal process such as a due process hearing or a formal written complaint.
To help parents understand the rights of student, parents, and school districts, information about please read about federal special education regulations. Information about Kentucky special education regulations is available on the Kentucky General Assembly’s webpage.
If a disagreement arises, the Kentucky Department of Education suggests that parents first contact the local director of special education (DoSE) to make the DoSE aware of the problem. A list of school websites is available to help parents locate and contact the local DoSE. Parents usually find this contact most successful if they first look at and familiarize themselves with the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and what it requires. To make the most of the contact with the DoSE, parents should be able to clearly explain their specific questions and concerns.
If these methods do not resolve the disagreement, three other conflict resolution options are available.
Parties may resolve IDEA disputes through:
- A Formal Written Complaint; or
- A Due Process Hearing
An explanation of each process, along with the model forms used to request each process can be found below.
Mediation is a voluntary and non-adversarial dispute resolution process. The meeting is facilitated by an impartial trained mediator and is focused on the needs of the student. The parent and district meet and work together to settle the dispute and develop a final agreement.
A successful mediation can help preserve good relationships between the parties involved. Mediation can be requested at any time and does not rule out the use of the formal written complaint or due process hearing.
Below are links to information about mediation and the mediation request form:
Procedural Safeguards: Mediation and Resolution Sessions information
Formal Written Complaints
A formal written complaint is a written statement alleging that a school district has violated a requirement of state or federal special education law.
A formal written complaint must be:
A formal written complaint should not address the following issues:
Violations of civil rights related to a disability (Section 504 or Americans with Disabilities issues)
Claims of child abuse or neglect
Matters under the sole authority of the local school district, such as employment of a teacher, assignments of teachers, or pupil assignments).
Although the above issues may involve violations of the law, a formal written complaint addresses only procedural violations of IDEA.
Download the Formal Written Complaint Form
Due Process Hearings
A due process hearing is an adversarial process in which a hearing officer resolves IDEA disagreements between parents and the school districts. The hearing may be requested on any matter involving:
A due process hearing must be requested in writing and must be filed within three (3) years of the date the parent or district knew or should have known about the issue. State statute sets out three (3) exceptions to the time limit, all related to omissions or misrepresentations by the school district.
Before a hearing may be held, the parties are required to hold a Resolution Meeting so that the district has an opportunity to resolve the dispute that led to the hearing request. The Resolution Meeting is not held if the parties agree to Mediation or if the parties agree to waive the meeting.
Download the Due Process Hearing Request Form
For general questions regarding special education, contact:
Office of Special Education and Early Learning
Telephone: (502) 564-4970
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort KY 40601
For questions regarding special education due process, contact:
Office of Legal Services
Telephone: (502) 564-4474
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort KY 40601
Educational Advocacy/ Legal Services Organizations
Children’s Law Center – Covington
1002 Russell Street, Covington, KY 41011
Email the Children's Law Center
Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network (KY-SPIN, Inc.)
10301-B Deering Rd.
Louisville, KY 40272
Fax: (502) 937-6464
Kentucky Protection and Advocacy
200 Fair Oaks Lane, Fifth Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
Appalachian Research & Defense Fund: Telephone 866-277-5733
Legal Aid of the Bluegrass: Telephone 800-888-8189
Legal Aid Society: Telephone 800-292-1862