Child Complaint Process

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.



Click on any question below to view answers to questions that parents most frequently ask us.

When should I consider filing a Child Complaint?

If you have concerns that your child’s school district has violated statutes and/or regulations of IDEA and you have tried to work with the school district through IEP process to no avail, filing a child complaint is an option to consider. Some examples of child complaint issues are:

  • Physical therapy, a related service identified in your child’s IEP, is not being provided;
  • The school district told you they “do not offer” extended school year services;
  • You were asked to pay for a medical service that was for educational evaluation purposes;
  • The IEP Team agrees that your child needs assistive technology to help them remain in the general educational environment, but your school says they do not have the item or device available.

The 2 year 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.

How do I file a Child Complaint?

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Special Education Compliance Section has forms available for download to assist you in filing a child complaint. You must file a signed written complaint with the state.

Child Complaints must allege a violation by the public agency (school district) that occurred not more than one year prior to the date the complaint is received.

What information must be included in a complaint?

The complaint must 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.
Who do I send the signed written complaint form to?

Send your signed written complaint 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

or Fax it to:  573-526-4404

You are also 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.

What happens after the state receives my complaint?

Once received, the state will:

  • Assign a staff member to the complaint to determine the parameters of the investigation (e.g., is an onsite visit needed, can the needed information be obtained through a data request and phone interviews)
  • Send written acknowledgement to the person filing the complaint.
  • Send notice to the school district the complaint was filed against. The school district will be given a chance to respond to the complaint. This response could include a proposal to resolve the complaint through voluntary mediation.

Written notice to the school district and the person filing the complaint must include a statement of the elements of the complaint, a description of the investigation process, and an invitation to provide any additional information either orally or in writing, about the allegations in the complaint.

How long does the state have to investigate my complaint?

DESE has 60 calendar days, from the date the complaint is received, to investigate and resolve the child complaint. Extension of of this timeline may be granted by the Commissioner of Education, if exceptional circumstances exist with the particular complaint, or if the parent (or individual or organization) and the public agency involved agree to extend the timeline in order to engage in mediation. If an extension is given, notice will be sent to the person filing the complaint and the school district under investigation, and documentation will be placed in the child complaint file.

How am I notified of the outcome of my Child Complaint?

You will receive a decision letter from the Commissioner of Education. The decision letter will include findings of fact and conclusions, as well as provide reasons for the decision. These findings will include a review of the investigation results, including any information from an on-site investigation or from documentation requests. The basis for resolution may be any one of the following:

  • A decision that the school district is not out of compliance;
  • A decision that the school district is out of compliance, but voluntary corrective action has been taken to bring the district back into compliance;
  • A decision that the school district is out of compliance and an order of corrective action with a timeline for submission to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Corrective actions ordered may include, but are not limited to, technical assistance activities, negotiations or other actions to achieve compliance.
Can I appeal the outcome of my Child Complaint?

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

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Do you have questions about a disability and how it may impact your child's education? Let our team help. Contact Us.


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