Steps for Ensuring Effective Communication With Non-English Speakers During the Special Education Complaints Investigation Process

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It is the mission of the Texas Education Agency (herein, “agency”) to improve outcomes for all public-school students in the state by providing leadership, guidance, and support to school systems.   As part of the fulfillment of that mission, the agency ensures that all participants in the special education complaints process are given equal opportunity to participate in the system regardless of race, color, or national origin.

Identifying and Responding to Complainants who are Non-English Speakers

·       When a complaint is filed in a language other than English, the assigned investigator is responsible for ensuring that all documents that the agency provides to the parties are provided on the same day to both parties in the complainant’s native language and in English.  This includes, but is not limited to, investigative reports, documentation request letters, reconsideration reports, corrective action receipts, and all other formal letters. 

·       If the agency receives a complaint that is written in a language other than English, the agency will communicate orally and in writing with the complainant in the language used in the letter of complaint unless the complainant specifically requests that the agency communicate in English.

·       If the agency receives a complaint that is written in English, but the complainant requests that the agency correspond with the complainant in a language other than English, the agency will communicate orally and in writing with the complainant in the requested language.

·       If the agency receives a complaint filed by a third-party acting on behalf of a parent and the agency determines through a review of the complaint and/or the record that the parent is a non-English speaker, the agency will provide copies of all official correspondence (including, but not limited to, investigative reports, documentation request letters, reconsideration reports, corrective action notices, and closure letters) to the parties on the same day in both English and in the parent’s native language. 

·       When an investigator assigned to track the implementation of special education due process hearing order sends correspondence to the parties, if the parent or the parent’s representative is a non-English speaker, the assigned investigator is responsible for ensuring that all documents that are provided to the parties are provided on the same day to both parties in the complainant’s native language and in English.

 

Timeline for Providing Documents to Complainants who are Non-English speakers  

  • All official correspondence, including, but not limited to, investigative reports, documentation request letters, reconsideration reports, corrective action notices, and closure letters, will be translated and provided to all parties to a complaint on the same day.
  • The parties will be provided with a copy of the respective correspondence in both English and the complainant’s native language.
  • While the agency has the regulatory authority to extend the sixty-calendar-day timeline for issuing an investigative report or a closure letter due to exceptional circumstances (such as multiple students being subject to the complaint, natural disasters, systemic allegations, etc.), the need to translate an investigative report or closure letter is not an exceptional circumstance that would justify an extension of the sixty-day timeline. The agency shall ensure that it has all investigative reports and closure letters completed quickly enough to allow for them to be translated and then issued within regulatory timelines in both languages at the same time. The timeline for issuing reconsideration reports cannot be extended for any reason. Reconsideration reports will be issued on the same day in both languages.

Oral Communication with Callers who are Non-English speakers

  • The agency has contracted with a company that provides translation services for phone calls.
  • If staff members of the agency’s Division of Special Education need to converse by phone with a non-English speaker, division personnel will follow protocols established by the translation company for providing the translation services.

 

TEA’s Special Education Dispute Resolution Handbook explains how the agency processes special education complaints. 

The English version of the Special Education Dispute Resolution Handbook may be found by clicking here: Special Education Dispute Resolution Handbook.   

The Spanish version of the Special Education Dispute Resolution Handbook may be found by clicking here: AGENCIA DE EDUCACIÓN DE TEXAS MANUAL DE LOS SISTEMAS PARA RESOLUCIÓN DE CONFLICTOS DE EDUCACIÓN ESPECIAL.

The agency can translate and provide copies of the Special Education Dispute Resolution Handbook and this policy in other languages as needed.