• Due Process Appeals

    An important part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the protection of the rights of parents and students while providing a free appropriate public education. These protections are called procedural safeguards and they include specific guidelines for the special education process. They guarantee parent involvement in their child's education and provide a procedure to follow, called due process, when there are conflicts over the recommendations of the school district.

    The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's provides resources to help families find the special education supports they need.

  • A procedural safeguards publication that explains your rights in the special education process must be developed by every state and distributed to parents of children with disabilities at least once each year. Some of your rights include:

    • Access to all educational records about your child
    • Notice when the school requests to begin or change the identification, evaluation or educational placement of your child
    • Notice when the school refuses to evaluate your child or provide special education services
    • Due process hearing when you disagree with the school district 

    Each state will usually have a copy of their procedural safeguards on their Department of Education web site:

    Parents and the school district sometimes conflict over the evaluation results that identify a child for special education, the types of services and supports offered by the school to ensure a free appropriate public education, information on the IEP, discipline or other issues. Parents can take several steps to begin an appeals process:

    • Case conference is an informal procedure to discuss your concerns with your child's teacher and other school staff members that may be members of your child's IEP team.
    • Administrative review is the next step when you present your complaint to the director of special education services in your district and then to the school superintendent. Request a meeting in writing.
    • Mediation is the next step if efforts fail at the school district level. If both you and the school agree to use an outside mediator to help resolve the problems, an impartial representative of the state's Department of Education is appointed. You have the right to bring an attorney. Mediation is voluntary and cannot be used to delay your right to go on to the next step and file a due process complaint.

    When disagreements cannot be resolved at your local school district level, you or your attorney have the right to file a due process complaint notice with your state's department of education. A written request must be submitted detailing the nature of the problem and proposing a solution. An impartial due process hearing officer will be selected by you and your school district. You have the right to be accompanied and advised by legal counsel or by an individual with special knowledge or training on children with disabilities, such as an advocate. After the hearing is held, a decision will be sent to you and the school district.

    If you or the school district disagree with the decision, it can be appealed to a state level review officer whose decision is final. If you are still not satisfied with the decision, you have the right to bring a civil action in state or federal court.

    Organizations and individuals can help you advocate for your child with special needs in the schools. Be sure to ask questions about their experience and outcomes before deciding who would best represent your child's needs. Several organizations also offer workshops and training.

  • Contact Us

    We want to hear from you. Email us with your feedback or suggestions for additional resources. Call our Family Resource Center at 513-636-7606 with your questions.