What is a Formal Complaint?

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PDF Version: What is a formal complaint?

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A parent, or any person or organization, may file a formal complaint if they believe that the school is not following the requirements of the state or federal special education law.

A formal complaint is a written document that you fill out and sign. Then, it goes to the State Department of Education. You can find the document here. 

This is a right that you have as a parent of a child receiving special education services. If your child has a 504 plan and it is not being followed, you can contact the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. 

See more: What is a 504 Plan?

When should I file a formal complaint?

The complaint must be something that has happened in the past calendar year. Before filing a formal complaint, try to find a solution with the school. If they are still not following the law, then you may want to file a formal complaint.

Example: The school is not carrying out your child’s IEP in the way that you agreed. You bring this up with the IEP team. They do not make any changes. Then, you may decide to file a formal complaint.

What happens after I file a formal complaint?

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has a Special Education Services Team. They will look into your complaint within 30 calendar days, unless there are exceptional circumstances. They will talk to both you and the school. Then, they will write a report. You will receive this report and so will the school.

If they decide that the school needs to make a change, then the school has 10 calendar days to respond. They must submit one of the following things to the State Department of Education:

• Document accepting the corrective action
• A request for more time to complete the corrective action
• A written request of appeal

If the school does not respond within 10 calendar days, they may face some form of penalty.
Once the school makes any needed changes, the Special Education Services Team from KSDE will let you know in writing. This closes the process.

Sources & Additional Resources:

Kansas Special Education Process Handbook. Kansas State Department of Education.

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney. Only an attorney can give you specific legal advice based on your particular situation. We try to update our materials regularly, but the law can change frequently. This publication is based on the law at the time that it was written. Future changes in the law could make information in this fact sheet inaccurate.

What is a Formal Complaint?