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The State Special Education Complaint​ investigation process is a procedure that is established under both the Federal and State special education laws and rules. In a state complaint, a person who has knowledge of the educational issues concerning the child may file a written, signed complaint. The complaint must identify the child (or in some cases children), the facts that have led to the dispute and the suggestions for how the situation needs to be fixed.​​


 File a State Complaint

Per federal regulations at 34 CFR 300.509, this form has been developed to assist parents and other parties in filing a State Special Education Complaint. The use of this form is recommended, but not required. The completed form should be sent to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) as well as the child’s local school district or to the public agency that is serving the child.

The federal regulation at 34 CFR 300.153(c) requires that the complaint allege a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date that the complaint is received. Complaints received by ISBE during standard business hours (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) are considered “received” on that date. Complaints received by ISBE after standard business hours, such as by email or fax, are considered “received” the next business day (Monday-Friday, excluding holidays on which the agency is closed).​

Request for State Special Education Complaint forms*: 

All forms updated 10/05/2023

*If the form is not used to submit a State Special Education Complaint, a letter with the following information must be submitted: (a) signature and contact information for the person filing the complaint; (b) name and address of residence of the child; (c) name of school the child attends; (d) a statement detailing the alleged violation(s) and the facts on which the statement is based; and (e) a proposed resolution to the problem. If able, provide necessary documentation such as copies of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The complaint (either letter or form) must be forwarded to the local school district or the public agency serving the child.  

Signed State Special Education Complaint​s may be mailed, faxed, or scanned and sent via email to the following:

The Illinois State Board of Education
Special Education Services Department​
100 North First Street
Springfield, Illinois 62777-0001​​
217/782-0372 (fax)​​​​​

 Correspondence That Will Not Be Investigated Through the Formal Complaint Process

  • Allegations that the person refuses to put in writing or sign, despite offers of assistance in preparing the complaint.
  • Inquiries that seek advice and clarification regarding parental rights but which make it clear that no official action is to be taken.
  • Anonymous correspondence.
  • Courtesy copies of correspondence directed to another entity.
  • Allegations that are not violations of the special education rules and regulations (i.e. personnel issues, Section 504 issues, harassment, etc.)

 Correspondence That Will Be Investigated Through the Formal Complaint Process

  • A signed, written letter alleging that the school district violated one or more of the special education laws or rules/regulations, including the facts on which the allegations are based.
  • An allegation of a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date the complaint is received by the Illinois State Board of Education.​​
  • Per Public Act 101-0507, any student enrolled in Chicago Public School (CPS) District #299, and for, or to whom,​ appropriate special education or related services may have been delayed or denied in the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 school year as a result of the adoption or policies and procedures identified by the State Board of Education as unlawful, may file a complaint on or before September 30, 2022.​

 Issues Impacting Complaint Investigations

  • Complaints regarding a specific child lodged by an individual other than the parent/guardian must be accompanied by a letter of permission from the parent/guardian in order for ISBE to share information with the complainant regarding the results of the investigation. Likewise, if an individual files a complaint on behalf of a student who is eighteen (18) years of age or older, it must be accompanied by a letter of permission from the student in order for ISBE to share information with the complainant regarding the results of the investigation.
  • A complaint which is substantially modified or amended by the complainant (i.e., new allegations) subsequent to official written notification of the complaint may be deemed a new complaint for the purpose of computing the applicable timeline.​

 Complaint Procedures/Resolutions

  • Within 60 days after a valid complaint is filed, the State Board of Education will carry out an independent investigation to gather information, and an on-site visit will be conducted, if necessary. An extension of time to complete the investigation shall be allowed if exceptional circumstances exist, or if the parent and school district agree to extend the timeline to engage in mediation or other alternate means of dispute resolution (e.g., local resolution, IEP Facilitation, etc.).
  • The individual filing the complaint has the opportunity to submit additional information about the allegations of the complaint, either orally or in writing.
  • The public agency has an opportunity to respond to the complaint, including a proposal to resolve the complaint and an opportunity for the parent who has filed a complaint and the public agency to voluntarily engage in mediation.
  • The State Board of Education will review all relevant information and make an independent determination whether the public agency is violating a requirement of federal or state special education regulations.
  • The State Board of Education will issue a written decision to the individual filing the complaint that addresses each allegation and contains (a) findings of fact and conclusions; (b) the reasons for the State Board of Education’s decision; and (c) orders for any actions necessary to bring the public agency into compliance with federal or state requirements. If the local school district or the special education cooperative does not verify compliance with the Illinois State Board of Education, additional enforcement proceedings may occur.​

 Due Process

  • Use of the complaint process does not preclude an eligible party such as a parent, school district, or a student from requesting a special education due process hearing.
  • All action relative to the complaint will be set aside if a hearing has been initiated and the issues in the complaint are addressed in the hearing request. Potential violations alleged in the complaint that are not addressed in the due process hearing will be handled through the complaint process.
  • If an issue raised in a complaint has already been decided in a due process hearing, the decision of the due process hearing officer is binding.​​​​


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