Any individual or organization that believes that there has been a violation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can file a complaint with the state. Missouri refers to this as a Child Complaint. The allegation can be about a specific child or about a system-wide procedure and the alleged problem must have occurred no more than 1 year from the date the complaint was filed. (Note that the timeline does not apply if the public agency specifically misrepresented that it had resolved the issues brought up in the complaint or the public agency withheld information that it was required to provide.

If you have concerns that your child’s school district has violated statues and/or regulations of IDEA and you have tried to work with the school district through IEP but have not found a solution, then filing a child complaint is an option. Here are some examples of child complaint issues:

  • A service identified in your child’s IEP is not being provided, such as physical therapy.
  • The school district has told you that they do not offer extended school year services.
  • You were asked to pay for a medial service that was for education evaluation purposes.
  • Your child’s IEP team has agreed that assistive technology is needed to help your child remain in their educational environment, but your school system has said that they do not have the device available.

You must file a signed written complaint with the state. Forms can be found here: https://dese.mo.gov/special-education in the compliance section.

Forms can be faxed to: 573-526-4404

Or mailed to:
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Division of Special Education Compliance
C/O Child Complaint Coordinator
P.O. Box 480
Jefferson City, MO 65102

NOTE: You are required to forward a copy of the complaint to the school district where your child attends school at the same time you file your complaint with the state.

When filling the form out, be sure to include the following information:

  • A statement that the school district has violated a requirement of Part B of IDEA;
  • The facts on which the statement is based (state facts describing an alleged violation of state and/or federal regulations implementing IDEA);
  • The signature and contact information of the person filing the complaint.
  • If the alleged violations are for a specific child, the name and address of the residence of the child as well as the name of the school the child attends. If the child is homeless then include the available contact information for the child and the name of the school the child is attending.
  • A description of the nature of the problem regarding the child, including facts relating to the problem.
  • A proposed solution of the problem to the extent known and available at the time the complaint is filed.

DESE has 60 calendar days, form the date the complaint is received, to investigate and resolve the complaint. (Extensions can be granted by the Commissioner of Education if exceptional circumstances exist or the parent / individual / organization involved, and the school involved agree to extend the timeline.) If extension is granted, notice will be sent to the person who filed the complaint and the school district.

Once the complain is received, the state will assign a staff member to the complaint to determine if the investigation requires an onsite visit, phone interviews, etc.

The state will then send written acknowledgement to the person filing the complaint and send a notice to the school district where the complaint was filed. The school district will be given a chance to respond to the complaint. (This response might include a proposal to resolve the complaint through voluntary mediation.)

You will receive a decision letter from the commissioner of education which will include findings of fact and conclusions as well as provide reasons for the decision. The letter will include a review of the investigation results. The decision may include one of the following:

  • The school district is not out of compliance.
  • The school district is out of compliance, but voluntary corrective action has been taken to bring the district back into compliance.
  • The district is out of compliance and an order has of corrective action will be submitted to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Corrective actions ordered may include technical assistance activities, negotiations or other actions.

NOTE: the findings of the Commissioner of Education related to the complaint are final. There is no appeal process.

Download PDFs Below

  • Parent Guide on Written State Complaint [ENGLISH]
  • First Steps Child Complaint Model Form [ENGLISH]