Special Education Dispute Resolution

Below you will find resources for Special Education Dispute Resolutions, organized by each step of the process.

Communication Matters

What do we do when communication isn't working the way we want it to? Or when disagreement or conflict makes it particularly difficult? Here are some simple strategies that we can all learn to use to improve communication.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

Prior Written Notice

A Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a written explanation of a change the school district or AEA wants to make or refuses to make in a child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP). It is important that parents understand what the school plans to do (or not do) for their child. A PWN must give parents the information they need to actively participate in making decisions about their child's educational program and services.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Sample Letter Requesting Prior Written Notice

This is an example letter for parents requesting written notice. The most important parts of the letter will be the blanks filled in with details from the parents! Parents are welcome to use part or all of the sample letter.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)

The CADRE's major emphasis is on encouraging the use of mediation, facilitation, and other collaborative processes as strategies for resolving disagreements between parents and schools about children's educational programs and support services.

Visit the CADRE Website

Dispute Resolution Comparison

This table compares the options for dispute resolution from AEA Mediation, State Level Mediation, Mediation (request for hearing), Due Process Hearing and Complaint to the Iowa Department of Education.

Learn More at the Iowa Department of Education

Conflict Resolution Options in Special Education

Learn the ways to formally address and resolve disputes related to Special Education services and supports.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

Model Form to Assist Parent(s)/Guardian(s) in Requesting a Mediation Conference

Use this form to request a Mediation Conference. You will need to explain the nature of the problem, the facts of this case relating to the problem and your proposed resolution of the problem.

See the EducateIowa.Gov Requesting Mediation Form

Special Education Dispute Resolution Options

We still disagree-What is the next step? After a parent receives a Prior Written Notice (PWN) about a proposed change or refused action and continue to disagree with the school, they have choices for how to resolve those differences. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) outlines three resolution options, they are: State Mediation, Due Process and State Complaint. The table below explains the basics of each Special Education resolution

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Due Process Complaint (Request for Due Process Hearing)

You may use this form if you want to file a due process complaint and request a due process hearing. That process is explained on pages 16 through 24 of the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education).

See the EducateIowa.Gov Due Process Complaint Form

IDEA State Complaint Form

You may use this form if you want to file an IDEA state complaint. That process is explained on pages 15 through 16 of the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education).

See the EducateIowa.Gov Complaint Form

Legal Resources in Iowa

ASK Resource Center maintains a list of private attorneys and statewide programs that may be able to assist or represent individuals with disabilities in issues related to disability law and Special Education Mediation, as well as establishing competency, guardianship, and special needs trusts.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Iowa Civil Rights Commission

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission is a neutral, fact-finding law enforcement agency. The mission of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is to end discrimination within the state of Iowa. To achieve this goal, the ICRC must effectively enforce the Iowa Civil Rights Act. The Commission's primary duty is to enforce state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, education and credit by investigating and litigating civil rights complaints.

Learn More at the Iowa Civil Rights Commission

How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights

Educational institutions have a responsibility to protect every student's right to learn in a safe environment free from unlawful discrimination and to prevent unjust deprivations of that right. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces five federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

Learn More at the U.S. Department of Education

How to File a Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

This brief 5 minute YouTube Video from the U.S. Department of Education summarizes how to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

Watch the U.S. Department of Education's YouTube Video