Special Education Complaints
News & Announcements
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and direct exposure risks in the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) building, VDOE employees have been ordered to refrain from working onsite and have extremely limited access to the building. To the extent possible, VDOE employees are working remotely and will make reasonable efforts to check U.S. mail, deliveries, and fax correspondence when access is permitted. However, there is likely to be an unavoidable delay in the receipt and processing of U.S. mail, deliveries, and fax correspondence sent to VDOE. Please be reminded that you may seek technical assistance regarding special education as well as file State Complaints, Due Process Complaints, and Mediation via email to ODRAS@doe.virginia.gov. Please visit our COVID-19 and Virginia Public Schools page for additional resources and guidance regarding the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency on Special Education in Virginia.
What is a special education complaint?
A complaint is generally an expression of some disagreement with a procedure or a process regarding special education programs, procedures or services. A formal complaint is considered a request that this division investigate an alleged violation of a right of a parent and/or child with disabilities who is eligible, or believed to be eligible, for certain services based on federal and state laws and regulations governing special education.
What the complaint system is not able to do
The state's complaint system for special education does not handle violations of Civil Rights related to disability. These matters are addressed directly with the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education. In addition, the complaint system cannot address personnel issues or general education matters. These matters are under the control of the school division.
Any matter which is under the exclusive control of the local school division will not be addressed in the special education complaint system. Local school divisions are responsible for the general day-to-day operation of schools, including supervision of personnel and the administration of programs
What is the difference between a special education complaint and a due process hearing?
A complaint can be filed by anyone. The complaint process usually involves a review of the alleged procedural violations. An example would be a situation where services are not being provided to a child with a disability in accordance with the student's Individualized Education program (IEP). A complaint can also focus on any particular process or procedure that is a violation of special education law or regulation. In addition, a complaint may raise an issue of appropriateness. In such cases, this office is required to determine whether the school division complied with the regulatory mandates under IDEA 2004, considered the required matters and made proposals that are reasonably supported by the student specific data, thus meeting the definition of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
A due process hearing is a process wherein a party alleges an issue relating to the identification, evaluation, or education of a child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for the child. Due process hearings are likely to involve disputes between the parent and the local school division over the appropriateness or nature of the student's program or services.
- State Special Education Complaint Form (PDF) | (Word)
- Private School Complaints – Involving the consultation process for parentally placed private school children with disabilities
- Private School Complaints – Involving issues related to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for a student in a private school for students with disabilities licensed by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE):
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For information about complaints related to Private Residential Facilities and Private Special Education Day Schools, see Private Day & Residential Schools