Special Education Dispute Resolution Processes

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) offers three formal processes for resolving disputes related to special education: mediation, special education complaints, and due process hearings. Information for these three processes is below.

Mediation

TEA offers mediation to parties who have a disagreement involving the educational program for a student with a disability. Mediation is voluntary, meaning that both parties must agree to participate in mediation. TEA provides information about mediation each time it receives a special education complaint or a due process hearing request, but parents and local educational agencies (LEAs) may request mediation at any time. For more information about mediation, see the Office of Legal Services, Special Education Mediation Program.

Complaint Resolution

If you believe a public agency, including TEA, has violated federal or state requirements related to special education, you may file a complaint with TEA.

How to File a Complaint?

In order for TEA to conduct an investigation, you must write and sign your complaint. The complaint must include the violations you believe have occurred and the facts to support the violations. A complaint form is available below in English and Spanish for your use. You do not have to use this form to file a complaint. You must hand deliver, mail, or fax the complaint to TEA. TEA cannot accept special education complaints by email.

In addition, whether you use the complaint form or write your own letter, the law requires you to send a copy of your complaint to the public agency against which you are filing the complaint.

Where Should You Send Your Complaint?

You must be hand deliver, mail, or fax your complaint to:

Texas Education Agency
Division of IDEA Support
1701 North Congress
Avenue Austin, Texas 78701-1494
Fax (512) 463-9560

Complaint Investigation Forms

You may complete the Word version of the complaint form offline, print, sign, and send it to the public agency and to TEA. The boxes on the form will expand as you type. The PDF version of the form allows you to download, print, and complete the complaint form by hand.  Once completed, you must sign the complaint and send it to the public agency and to TEA. You may attach additional pages if needed.

A checklist is available to ensure that you submit all required information in order for TEA to investigate your special education complaint.

Note: You may request a complaint investigation and mediation at the same time.  However, if you request a complaint investigation and a due process hearing on the same issues, your complaint investigation request will remain on hold until the due process hearing has ended.

Complaint Investigation Form – English (Word)  

Complaint Investigation Form – Spanish (Word)

Complaint Investigation Form – English (PDF)

Complaint Investigation Form – Spanish (PDF)

Additional allegations (English)

Additional allegations (Spanish)

Instructions for the Complaint Investigation Form

There are five sections to the complaint form.

Section One: Student Information

If you are requesting a complaint investigation for one student, you must complete the "Student Information" section. Provide the student's complete name, mailing address, phone number, and the name of the school that the student attends or attended. The name of the student's current school district and the student's date of birth are optional, but assist with identification purposes. If you are requesting a complaint investigation for more than one student, skip the "Student Information" section and complete the rest of the form.

In the case of a homeless child or youth (within the meaning of section 752 [2] of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act [42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)]), you must provide all available contact information for the student and the name of the school the student is attending.

Section Two: Complainant Information

The complainant is the individual or organization filing the complaint. The complainant may file as a third party on behalf of a student or students. The complainant must provide his/her complete name and contact information. The requested optional information is useful for determining whether TEA may disclose the student's education records to the complainant under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Section Three: Complaint Information

The complaint must allege a special education violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), its implementing regulations, and/or special education requirements in the Texas Education Code (TEC) or Texas Administrative Code (TAC). The violation must have occurred not more than one year prior to the date that TEA receives the complaint. The complainant must describe, in detail, each act that is an alleged violation of special education requirements in the IDEA, TEC, and/or TAC, including when the act occurred and any other events relevant to the allegation. The complaint should also describe what documents would be helpful for TEA to review. Finally, the complaint must include a proposal for resolution of the allegation or to the problem.

TEA cannot use the special education complaints to address concerns related to:

  • personnel issues or assignments,
  • teaching/instructional methodology,
  • parental access to the campus, or
  • other local matters of concern.

You may address these types of issues to campus or district-level administration and/or through the district's local grievance process.

Additionally, TEA cannot use the special education complaints to address concerns related to:

  • discrimination,
  • harassment,
  • retaliation, or
  • Section 504 determinations or services.

You may address these types of issues to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, at (214) 661-9600.

Finally, TEA cannot use the special education complaints process to investigate allegations of abuse and/or neglect of students. You may address allegations of abuse or neglect to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at (800) 252-5400.

Section Four: Signature

You as the complainant must sign the request for complaint investigation.

Section Five: Notification for Complaint Investigation

You as the complainant must send a copy of the complaint to the public agency against which you are filing the complaint. In section Five, indicate to whom at the public agency you sent the copy of the complaint. Also indicate when you sent a copy of the complaint to the public agency.

Special Education Complaint Checklist

Complete the following actions in order for TEA to investigate your special education complaint.

  • Ensure that you have provided:
    • the student's name, contact information, and name of the school the student attends;
    • your name, address, and contact information;
    • detailed information as to when, where, and how the alleged violation took place; and
    • a proposed solution to the problem.
  • Ensure that you have signed your complaint.
  • Ensure that you have provided a copy of your complaint to the public agency against which you are filing the complaint..
  • Ensure that you have submitted your complaint (hand delivered, mail, or fax) in time for TEA to receive it no later than one year from the date of the alleged violations(s).

Due Process Hearings

A special education due process hearing is a formal legal process similar to going to trial in a court. A district or parent may request a due process hearing when a parent and the district do not agree about the identification, evaluation, educational placement or services of a student with a disability or when the parties disagree on the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the student. For information on how to request a due process hearing, go to the Office of Legal Services, Special Education Due Process Hearing Program.

Technical Assistance for the Dispute Resolution Processes

For questions related to special education complaints, please contact the Division of IDEA Support:

Phone (512) 463-9414
Fax (512) 463-9560

For questions related to mediations or due process hearings, please contact TEA's Office of Legal Services:

Phone (512) 463-9720
Fax (512) 475-3662.

Additional Information Related to Special Education Dispute Resolution

 Individualized Education Program Facilitation (FIEP) serves as a means of preventing disputes related to special education programs and services, and serves as an alternative dispute resolution process for issues related to special education.

The Special Education Dispute Resolution Systems Handbook provides additional information about the FIEP process, the mediation process, the special education complaints process, and due process hearings.

The Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) is a national technical assistance center for dispute resolution.

Q&A on Procedural Safeguards and Due Process Procedures provides guidance related to special education dispute resolution.

For Individuals Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:

TTY Number: (512) 475-3540
Relay Texas 7-1-1