Topic Areas: State Complaints
Ms. Marcie Lipsitt 27260 Willowgreen Court Franklin, Michigan 48025 Dear Ms. Lipsitt: This is in response to your August 9 , 2014 correspondence requesting clarification from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) regarding a State educational agency’s (SEA) responsibility for resolving a State complaint unde r 34 CFR §§300.151-300.153 of the regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). I apologize for the delay. You ask whether an SEA must issue a written decision under 34 CFR §§300.151- 300.153 when the SEA accepts a local educational agency’s (LEA) proposal for resolution of a State complaint under 34 CFR §300.152(a)(3) (i). As stated in the Analysis of Comments and Changes — 34 CFR §300.152(a)(3) was proposed to encourage meaningful, informal, resolution of disputes between the public agency and parents, organizations, or other individuals by providing an opportunity for parties to resolve disputes at the local level without t he need for the SEA to resolve the matter. We believe that, at a minimum, the State’s complaint procedures should allow the public agency that is the subject of the complaint the opportunity to respond to a complaint by proposing a resolution and provide a n opportunity for a parent who has filed a complaint and the public agency to resolve a dispute by voluntarily engaging in mediation. 71 Fed. Reg. 46540, 46603 (Aug. 14, 2006). Once an SEA resolves a State complaint, whether it be through its investigati on or by accepting the LEA’s proposal developed pursuant to 34 CFR §300.152(a)(3)(i) to resolve the complaint, within 60 days of the date that the complaint was filed, subject to allowable extensions, an SEA is required to issue a written decision to the c omplainant that addresses each allegation in the complaint and contains: (1) findings of fact and conclusions; and (2) the reasons for the SEA's final decision. 34 CFR §300.152(a)(5). Your correspondence also raises a series of questions regarding an SEA’s ability to use the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance and other SEAs’ policies and procedures to reach a resolution in a State complaint under 34 CF R §§300.151-300.153. Neither the IDEA , nor its implementing regulations , specifically address whether an SEA may rely on OCR guidance or another SEAs ’ policies and procedures to resolve a State complaint. The SEA is in the best position, and should have the flexibility, to determine what information is necessary to resolve a complaint, based on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. The minimum State complaint procedures in 34 CFR §300.152 are intended to be broad in recognition of the fact that States operate differently and standards appropriate to one State may not be appropriate in another State. 71 Fed. Reg. 46540, 46602 (Aug. 14, 2006). Page 2 – Marcie Lipsitt OSEP is the office within the U.S. Department of Education that is responsible for administering the IDEA. Therefore, if an SEA elects to use guidance from other sources, in its resolution of Part B State complaints, an SEA should ensure that such guidance is consistent with the IDEA and its implementing regulations , and applicable written policy guidance from OSEP interpreting these IDEA requirements . Based on section 607(e) of the IDEA, we are informing you that our response is provided as informal guidance and is not legally binding, but represents an interpretation by the U.S. Department of Ed ucation of the IDEA in the context of the specific facts presented. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Wolfsheimer at 202- 245-6090 or by email at Jennifer.Wolfsheimer@ed.gov. Sincerely, /s/ Melody Musgrove, Ed.D. Director Office of Special Education Programs cc: Teri Johnson Chapman, Ed.S., Michigan State Director of Special Education
Addresses procedures for resolution of a state complaint including LEA and SEA responsibilities and issuing a written decision.
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Last modified on October 24, 2023