Under federal and state law, the CDE has 60 calendar days from receipt of the complaint to carry out any necessary investigation and to resolve the complaint. [34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.152(a)(1)-(5).] When CDE receives your complaint, it must review the complaint to determine if it is a matter for state or local investigation. Once it makes this determination, the Department must immediately notify you of its decision and either refer the complaint for local investigation or begin its direct investigation. [5 C.C.R. Sec. 4651.]
Although the state regulations appear to allow for a longer timeline, the federal regulation requires that the complaint be investigated and a decision issued within 60 days. [34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.152(a)(1)-(5); 5 C.C.R. Sec. 4662(b).] As the federal law provides more protection, the 60-day time limit for investigation of the complaint and issuance of a decision must apply. [Town of Burlington v.Department of Education, 736 F.2d 773, 792 (1st Cir., 1984); David D. v. Dartmouth School Committee, 775 F.2d 411, 418-20 (1st Cir. 1985); Geis v. Board of Education, 774 F.2d 575, 581-83 (3d Cir., 1985); Board of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 205 (1982); California School for the Blind v. Honig, 736 F.2d 538, 546 (9th Cir., 1984) reversed on other grounds, 471 U.S. 148 (1985).]
If your complaint involves one or two simple compliance issues, you may wish to ask in your complaint that the investigation be expedited or “fast tracked.” Examples might include:
- your child’s IEP specifies that he is to receive transportation and the bus has not come for two days;
- your child’s teacher does not attend his IEP meetings;
- your child’s IEP specifies that he have an instructional aide during certain periods of the day and the aide has not been provided; or
- your child’s principal has told you that because of the child’s behavior at school, you should not bring him back.
After filing your complaint, you may also wish to call the compliance office to find out who has been assigned the complaint to remind that investigator of your request and reasons for expedited processing. The CDE’s Special Education Dispute Resolution Process is available at . https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/qa/cmplntproc.asp
Whether or not you file a fast-track complaint, if you do not hear from CDE within 10 days after you mail your complaint, you should call 800-926-0648 to follow up. You can also fax the CDE at 916-327-3704.