Both federal and state law include procedural safeguards to ensure that special education laws are implemented fully and appropriately. Compliance complaints and due process proceedings are two fundamental procedural safeguards that parents and others can use to enforce their rights and express their disagreement with the school district. The main difference between them is:
- A due process proceeding is appropriate when there is a disagreement about what should go into a student’s IEP, or where to implement the IEP;
- A compliance complaint is appropriate when the district has not followed special education laws or procedures or implemented what is already specifically written into a student’s IEP;
In other words, due process proceedings involve a disagreement over what a student’s program should include, while a compliance complaint involves an allegation of the school district’s failure to follow the rules or to do what has already been agreed to in writing in the IEP.