The Results of State Level Investigations of IDEA Complaints in Virginia

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Virginia Tech


In recent years, Americans have seen a plethora of litigation surrounding disputes parents have with school districts involving a wide range of special education issues. The ability to challenge the decisions made by school personnel regarding identification, evaluation, placement, and the provision of free appropriate public education is a cornerstone of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (Opuda, 1997). IDEA requires that states guarantee parents the right to bring complaints to the State Education Agency regarding any of these matters (34 C.F.R. 300.507). The federal government and state legislatures have toiled to develop strategies to work through these challenges by utilizing alternative dispute resolution procedures.

Under IDEA, parents are afforded the opportunity to participate in meetings concerning their child or request mediation. If they feel the child has not been provided a free appropriate public education, they can challenge the local education agency, or state education agency. Consistent with federal regulations, all states must have a system to monitor and enforce special education compliance issues. If parents believe there is sufficient proof that their child has not been served in accordance with state and federal guidelines, they may file complaint resolution procedures with their state education agency (20 U.S.C. §1400, et. seq.).

This study used a quantitative approach to examine the number of cases where parents filed complaint resolution procedures with the Virginia Department of Education regarding special education compliance issues as well as analyze the frequencies of the complaint resolution procedures over a four year period. The examination of these cases focused on whether or not the effects of the division size, locale (rural, suburban, or city), geographical region, socioeconomic status of the family, and the category of the issue influenced the outcome of the complaint.



Complaint Resolution Procedures, IDEA, Special Education