A State complaint is a written, signed statement of an allegation that a local or State educational agency (e.g., school district or other public agency) has violated a requirement of federal or New York State (NYS) law or regulation relating to the education of students with disabilities. If a parent, individual, or organization believes that such a violation has occurred, they may submit a written, signed State complaint to the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Upon receipt of a State complaint, the NYSED must determine if the alleged violation occurred and issue a written decision of its findings.
The New York State Complaint Procedures – Questions and Answers document clarifies the procedures used by the NYSED in the investigation and resolution of State complaints which allege that a school district or public agency has violated a requirement of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or State law or regulation relating to the education of students with disabilities. In addition, the NYSED has developed a sample State complaint form that may be used to submit a complaint. Use of the sample State complaint form is optional. However, use of this form is recommended to help ensure that the required information is completed.
The NYSED encourages parents and school districts to use collaborative, nonadversarial means such as mediation to resolve complaints regarding the education of a student with a disability whenever possible.
Filing a State Complaint
Parent, Individual or Organization (Complainant) Submitting the State Complaint
- Requests for a State complaint must be made in writing.
- A State complaint must be signed by the complainant (faxed or e-mail signatures will not be accepted).
- The State complaint must include:
- a statement that a school district or public agency has violated a requirement of Part B of IDEA or State law/regulation related to students with disabilities;
- the facts on which the statement is based;
- contact information of the person filing the complaint;
- if alleging violations with respect to a specific child, include:
- the name and address of the residence of the child;
- the name of the school the child is attending;
- in the case of a homeless child or youth, available contact information for the child and the name of the school the child is attending;
- a description of the nature of the problem of the child (the concerns that led you to file the complaint), including the facts relating to the problem; and
- a proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available at the time the person is filing the complaint.
- The complaint must allege a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date that the complaint is received.
- The individual filing the complaint must forward a copy of the complaint to the school district or other public agency serving the child at the time the person files the complaint with NYSED.
State Complaint Procedures
- The school district or public agency must give the procedural safeguards notice to the parent upon receipt of the first State complaint in a school year.
- The parent, individual or organization filing the complaint has the opportunity to submit additional information, either orally or in writing, about the allegations in the State complaint.
- The school district or public agency has the opportunity to respond to the State complaint, including, at a minimum: (a) at the discretion of the school district or public agency, a proposal to resolve the complaint and (b) an opportunity for the school district or public agency and the parent who filed the complaint to voluntarily engage in mediation.
- Within 60 calendar days after a complaint is filed (received), NYSED will issue a written decision to the complainant that addresses each allegation in the complaint and contains findings of fact and conclusions and the reasons for the final decision. NYSED will include, if needed, procedures for effective implementation of its final decision, including technical assistance, negotiations and corrective actions to achieve compliance.
- NYSED can grant an extension of the 60-calendar-day time limit only if exceptional circumstances exist with respect to a particular State complaint or the parent, individual or organization and school district or other public agency involved voluntarily agree to extend the time to resolve the matter through mediation.
- NYSED is required to set aside the complaint or any part of a State complaint that is being addressed in a due process hearing until the conclusion of the hearing. Any issue in the complaint that is not part of a due process hearing must be investigated and resolved. If an issue raised in a State complaint has previously been decided in a due process hearing involving the same parties, then the due process hearing decision is binding on that issue and NYSED will inform the complainant that the decision is binding. A complaint alleging a school district’s or other public agency’s failure to implement a due process hearing decision will be resolved by NYSED.
- NYSED will review all relevant information and make an independent determination as to whether the school district or other public agency is violating a requirement of Part B of IDEA or State law/regulation and must, if it determines it to be necessary, carry out an independent on-site investigation.
Instructions: Complete, sign, and make two copies of the original State complaint form posted below.
- Send the original State complaint form to the New York State Education Department (NYSED), Office of Special Education, 89 Washington Avenue, Room 309 EB, Albany, NY 12234, Attention: State Complaints.
- Send one copy of the State complaint form to the school district serving the child at the same time that the complaint is filed with NYSED.
- Retain a copy of the State complaint form for your records
- The form must be signed or it cannot be processed and will be returned to you for signature. NYSED will only accept formal complaints with ORIGINAL signature. State complaints that are faxed or emailed will not be accepted.
New York State Complaint Form
Use of this form is recommended but not required. If using your own format to submit a State complaint, you must provide the required information as indicated by asterisks (*) on the sample form. Please contact the Special Education Quality Assurance office located in your region with questions regarding the use of this form or the procedures involved in submitting a State complaint.