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(6.34) How specific should I be in my due process complaint?

(6.34) How specific should I be in my due process complaint?

Your complaint should be very specific. You must include the following information in your due process request:

  1. The name of the student;
  2. The residential address of the student, or contact information for a homeless student;
  3. The name of the school the student is attending;
  4. A description of the problems, disputes or disagreements. The description must give enough of the facts to clearly describe the problem; and,
  5. A description of the proposed resolution – that is, what needs to happen to solve the problem.

[20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(b)(7); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.508(b); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56502(c).]

You should visit the OAH website and review the OAH complaint form and the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) before filing your request for a due process hearing. (See Sample Requests for Mediation and/or Hearing (Complaint) and Request for Stay-Put, Appendices Section, Appendix J.) It is not enough to say: “my child is not learning anything” or “my child is not making progress” as your statement of the problem. Similarly, it is not sufficient to say: “I want him to be in a class where he can learn” or, “I want him to go to a private school” as your statement of the solution. Your statement of the problem should relate to one of the ten issues listed above, and must contain enough information to clearly describe the problem and what you want the ALJ to order the district to do to solve the problem and why.

OAH states:

Please do not phrase problems as “issues,” rather, list contentions or allegations as such. For example, if a parent is requesting a due process hearing and the perceived problem is the alleged failure of a district to assess [a student] in an area of suspected disability, do not phrase the “issue” as: ‘Whether the district assessed in all areas of suspected disability.’ Rather, include in your contention the area(s) of suspected disability allegedly known by the district and the assessments you contend the district failed to undertake.

Be sure to include all the problems you want to have heard and decided at the hearing in your request for due process. Problems that are not described in the request for due process cannot be considered at the hearing unless the other side agrees. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(f)(3)(B); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.511(d); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56502(i).] Also, be sure to review and follow all OAH instructions about how, when and where to file your due process complaint.