Who can file a Due Process Complaint?
Parties on either side of a dispute can file a due process complaint. A parent, guardian, or Administrative Unit (AU: School District, BOCES, or State Operated Program) must file a written complaint by mail or hand-delivery to both the Department of Education and the responding party (See contact information and model forms below). Once CDE has confirmed the responding party has received the complaint, the timelines for the complaint will begin and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be assigned to oversee the process.
What issues can be addressed?
A due process complaint can address any alleged violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) or Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA) that occurred within two years from the filing date. A complaint may be filed concerning the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with a disability or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Prior to filing a Due Process Complaint, it is advisable to contact an attorney or advocate experienced in special education law and due process hearings. Disability Law Colorado may be able to assist you or refer you to other available resources.
How does it work?
A due process complaint first requires that the parties conduct a resolution meeting in an attempt to resolve the complaint allegations. The AU must convene a resolution meeting within 15 days of a properly filed complaint. The resolution period may continue for up to 30 days. In cases where both parties are agreeable, mediation may take place in lieu of this resolution meeting. If the issues remain unresolved at the end of the 30 days, the 45 day hearing timeline begins and a hearing may be conducted. An ALJ presides over the hearing and much like a formal court proceeding the parties present evidence, give testimony, and cross-examine witnesses. The ALJ then issues a written decision.
Alternatively, if the complaint concerns allegations involving disciplinary removals for greater than 10 days (i.e. suspension or expulsion) or disagreements with a manifestation determination that occurred as a result of a disciplinary removal, the due process complaint will be expedited. In these limited cases, a hearing must take place within 20 school days of the properly filed complaint, and a decision must be issued within 10 school days of that hearing.
Who decides the outcomes?
Following the hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision. If the ALJ determines that there were IDEA violations, remedies may be ordered, and the violations must be corrected. If the ALJ determines that no IDEA violations occurred, no remedies are ordered.
What does it cost?
While a due process complaint requires no filing fees, each party is responsible for their own attorney fees.
Is there an appeal process?
The ALJ’s decision may be appealed in state or federal district court within 90 days of the date of the decision.
Contact, Forms, and Further Information:
Dispute Resolution Paralegal & Coordinator
Email Jennifer Woods