Find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about conflict resolution. Just click on a question below to reveal the answer associated with it.
You may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights if a school is treating your child differently because of a disability.
- The U.S. Department of Education’s OCR is a federal agency that ensures that schools comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (anti-discrimination law).
- You may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights if a school is treating your child differently because of a disability.
- OCR does not enforce IDEA (the special education law).
- OCR will probably not solve your complaint about an IDEA issue, which would include IEP issues.
- For help deciding whether this is the right place for your complaint, see the OCR website.
Write a letter to OCR that includes:
- Your name and address
- The story of your child’s different/discriminatory treatment because of his or her disability and how it hurt him or her
- The name and address of the school
- A description of the different treatment with details so that OCR can understand:
- What happened
- When it happened
- The reason for the different treatment, such as your child’s disability
Remember, you must have proof, a “paper trail,” to show what happened. Send copies of that “paper trail” to OCR with your letter.
Illinois residents without Internet access may send a letter to:
Office for Civil Rights/Chicago
U.S. Department of Education
500 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60661
You may file a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) if the school has not followed special education laws. Examples include not following your child’s IEP.
- You must write a letter explaining the specific failure by the school and what you are asking the board of education to do.
- Important things to know when filing an ISBE complaint:
- Whatever you are complaining about must have happened within the past year.
- It is important to send proof of the wrongdoing with your letter, such as the IEP or other school documents.
- It is best to have a “paper trail” that shows the failure of the school.
- What do I put in the ISBE complaint?
- Your name and child’s name
- The school’s name
- Details about what the school did wrong and the facts to support your statement
- How does the ISBE complaint process work?
- The ISBE has 60 days to resolve the complaint.
- The ISBE will:
- Review your letter
- Send the school a copy of your letter (complaint)
- Ask the school to respond
- To find out more information, see ISBE’s description of the special education complaint investigation process at www.isbe.net/spec-ed/html/complaint_investigation.htm.
- If you do not have Internet access, you may send your letter to:
The Illinois State Board of Education Special Education Services Division 100 N. First St. Springfield, IL 62777-0001
- Important things to know about mediation:
- A parent or school district can ask the state to provide a mediator at any time.
- It is free.
- Mediation is voluntary, which means both parties have to agree to mediate.
- If you or the school does not want to mediate, it will not happen.
- Either side can stop mediation at any time.
- The mediation will take place on a date that everyone agrees to.
- The mediator is an impartial person who will try to help both sides reach an agreement.
- Mediation is confidential. Anything said at mediation cannot be repeated outside the room or in a due process hearing.
- Mediation is binding on both parties.
- It is very important that any agreement be written.
- An agreement should state exactly what each party will do, by when, and what will happen if the parties don’t do what they have agreed to.
- How do I request mediation?
You can write or call:
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
100 N. First St.
Springfield, IL 62777-0001
217-782-5589 (mediation coordinator)
Toll free: 866-262-6663
A due process hearing is an administrative hearing, like a trial, with a hearing officer (judge) and witnesses.
- You must prepare to go to trial if you file for a due process hearing.
- You do not need a lawyer, but it is helpful to have one.
- In Illinois, one research study showed that from 1997 to 2002, parents without a lawyer won only a little more than 16 percent of due process hearings.
- In the same study, parents who had a lawyer won 49 percent of the hearings.
- If you use a lawyer, find one who knows special education law before you request a due process hearing.
- Important things to know about due process hearings:
- In Illinois, the IDEA 2004 limits due process hearing issues and remedies to two years before the date of the hearing request.
- You can ask a hearing officer to correct a problem that has occurred within the last two years, but you may not request relief for a problem that goes past that two-year period, unless it is recurring or fits another of some very narrow exceptions.
- How do I request a due process hearing?
- Send a letter to the school superintendent and the ISBE (in Illinois).
- The letter should include:
- Identifying information, such as your name, your child’s name and the school’s name
- The problem
- Your proposed solution
- There are very specific rules for what must be in a due process request letter and in the hearing. You can find Illinois’ rules by looking at the website: www.isbe.state.il.us/.
- View our Conflict Resolution Resources page
- Read about some of our conflict resolution cases
- Donate to our Equality for Kids Campaign
- Get legal help
Last updated: April 17, 2014