Resource Library

Special Education Dispute Resolution

There are several resolution options if you have a disagreement with a district, an AEA, or another public agency involved in your child’s education.  


A Parent's Guide to Educational Advocacy

Advocacy comes in many forms, ranging from friendly, gentle persuasion to aggressive, in your face confrontation. The form or style that is most effective often depends on the type of advocacy you are pursuing. When it comes to parent advocacy in education, there are extremely important considerations: the long-term working relationship between you, as a parent, and the educators who have a continuing role in your child's educational development, and how that relationship may affect your child's educational environment.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

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

What Can I Do If I Disagree with the IEP Team? 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

We still disagree - What is the next step? Dispute Resolution Options in Special Education

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.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

Dispute Resolution Process 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

CADRE Continuum for Families

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

Summary of Procedural Safeguards for Parents: Talking Points for IEP Teams

This is a very brief summary of parental rights in special education.

Learn more from Iowa IDEA Information

Procedural Safeguards Manual: Rights of Parents of Students with Disabilities Ages 3-21

The rights that parents have in the Special Education process are called “Procedural Safeguards”. This document from the Iowa Department of Education describes the legal requirements that guide IEP teams and options that parents have in the Special Education process including the formal “dispute resolution” processes available help to resolve disagreements.

Visit the Iowa Department of Education Website

Formal Written Complaint (Dispute Resolution)

Any individual or organization may file a State complaint alleging a violation of any IDEA Part B requirement by a district (LEA), Area Education Agency (AEA), State Educational Agency (SEA), or any other public agency.

Learn more from the IDOE

IDEA State Complaint Resource Center

Find information that assists parents, advocates and attorneys in using the IDEA Written State Complaint process. This website includes information on the process along with podcasts, webinars, and data on the number of complaints filed by states.

Learn more from the Advocacy Institute

ASK an Expert: State Complaints - How It's Filed Matters

Watch this webinar presented by an attorney from Disability Rights Iowa to learn about the details of the State Complaint process including, what it is, what should be included, and what to expect in the process

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

Model Form: IDEA State Complaint

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).

Learn more from the IDOE

Due Process Hearings (Dispute Resolution)

You may file a due process complaint, also know as a due process hearing request, relating to your child and referring to a proposal or refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, educational placement of your child with a disability, or provision of FAPE to your child.

Learn more from the IDOE

Model Form: Due Process Complaint

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

Resolution Meeting

A resolution meeting is a mediation session that is offered when a parent has filed a due process complaint. This document outlines the expectations and some frequently asked questions.

Learn more from i3

Mediation (Dispute Resolution)

Mediation must be made available to you to allow you and the public agencies to resolve disagreements involving any matter under IDEA

Learn more from the IDOE

Model Form to Assist Parents 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.

View the IDOE PDF

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.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

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 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

How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for 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

Sample Letter - How to Report Bullying to School

Learn about the options for reporting a bullying incident to the school along with a sample letter that includes the important details to include about the situation.

View the ASK Resource Center PDF

File a FERPA Complaint - Protecting Student Privacy

If you believe your rights have been violated under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), please review the videos and instructions below to learn how to file a complaint with the Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO). While the videos are specific to FERPA complaints, a similar process applies to PPRA complaints.

Learn more from the U.S. Department of Education

Communication Tips for Parents & Educators

Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate your feelings about your child's education with their teacher. Try using some of these communication tips so next time you can focus on your goals, effectively set your expectations and not get too emotionally overwhelmed.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center