3 Tips Every School Administrator Should Know About A Formal Special Education Complaint

One way to resolve disputes under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is by filing a complaint with the South Dakota Department of Education. Upon receiving a complaint under this process, the Department must conduct an independent investigation.  It should be noted that a complaint under this procedure is not the same as a due process complaint.

Tip #1 - What is a state (formal) special education complaint?

A state (formal) complaint is a written signed statement by an individual or organization, including an individual or organization from another state, containing a statement that the Department or a school district has violated a requirement of federal or state statutes, rules, or regulations that apply to a program and a statement of the facts on which the complaint is based. 

Tip #2 - When does a complaint need to be filed?

A complaint must allege a violation that occurred not more than one year before the date the complaint is received by the Department.

Tip #3 - What does the complaint need to allege?

The written signed complaint must include:

          (1)  The signature and contact information for the complainant; and

          (2)  If alleging violations with respect to a specific student:

  1. The name and address of the residence of the student;
  1. The name of the school the student is attending;
  1. In the case of a homeless student or youth, available contact information for the student and the name of the school the student is attending;
  1. A description of the nature of the problem of the student, including facts related to the problem; and
  1. A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time the complaint is filed.

For more about these type of special education complaints, read Chapter 21 of The South Dakota School Law Deskbook™.