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Part 5: A State Level Complaint

A state level complaint is another common tool. For any alleged violation of IDEA or the Exceptional Children’s Education Act (ECEA), you can file a state level complaint with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and simultaneously with the Special Education Director of your Administrative Unit. You can find forms and directions here

A state level complaint covers any alleged IDEA or ECEA (state law and regulations) violation that has taken place within the last year. For a more detailed explanation of what is involved, see the OSEP Questions and Answers on IDEA Part B Dispute Resolution Procedures. This complaint works similarly to an OCR complaint, but it focuses on special education issues and has a shorter timeline to resolution. 

After you file a complaint, the school district will file a response. If the State Complaints Officer (SCO) accepts the complaint for investigation, the SCO gathers documents, interviews people, and conducts on investigation. Then the Officer issues a written decision within 60 days. The officer can enter orders to correct the violation.

You can file a state-level complaint yourself or with an attorney, though it is likely to be more effective with an attorney. This is a lower-level and lower-cost approach, both for you and the school district, because the SCO does most of the work. The SCO will also offer the opportunity to mediate. 

If you disagree with the results of the state level complaint, you can also file for due process, so this is a proceeding that lets you have “a second bite at the apple.”

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