DESE Department of Elementary & Secondary Education STANDARD COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURE
This standard complaint resolution procedure applies to all programs administered by the Dept. of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the Improving America's Schools Act (IASA).
What is a complaint for purposes of this policy?
A complaint is an allegation that a specific federal or state law or regulation has been violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted by school district personnel or by the Department personnel.
A complaint under this procedure must be in writing and signed by the complainant. The written complaint must specify the details of the situation and must pertain to a law or regulation that is allegedly being violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted.
Who may file a complaint? Any parent or guardian, surrogate parent, teacher, administrator, school board, or other person directly involved with an activity, program, or project operated under the general supervision of the Department may file a complaint.
What types of complaints are recognized? There are two types of complaints:
1. A complaint alleging that a local school district is violating, misapplying, or misinterpreting a law or a regulation of the DESE; and,
2. A complaint alleging that the DESE is violating, misapplying, or misinterpreting a law or a regulation.
How are complaints filed?
1. Complaints against local school districts: A complaint alleging that local school district officials have violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted a state or federal law or regulation must first be filed and resolution pursued in accordance with local district policy. If the issue cannot be resolved at the local level, the complainant may file a complaint with the Department. Before accepting such a complaint, the Department will ask for evidence of an attempt to resolve the issue at the local level. If the parties have not attempted in good faith to resolve the complaint at the local level, the Department may require the parties to do so and may provide technical assistance to facilitate such resolution. A question about local school district policies, rules, or practices which are not based on federal or state laws or regulations is not a complaint within the meaning of this policy and must be settled at the local school district level.
2. Complaints against the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: A local school district official, a local board of education, or any person directly affected by actions of the Department may file a written complaint alleging that the Department or its personnel have violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted a state or federal law or regulation directly with the Department.
How does the Department hear and resolve complaints?
1. Any formal complaint against the Department or an unresolved complaint against a local school district related to the IASA is to be addressed to the Director of the Grants Management Section.
2. Within thirty days after receiving a complaint or appeal, the section director will resolve the complaint and inform interested parties in writing of this decision. In resolving the complaint, the section director may rely upon statements of the parties involved or may conduct an independent investigation. The section director may grant an extension of the thirty-day limit for just cause.
3. If a complainant disagrees with the decision of the section director, the complainant may within ten working days, appeal to the Deputy Commissioner of Education. This appeal must be in writing and state why the complainant disagrees with the decision.
4. Within thirty days after receiving an appeal, the Deputy Commissioner of Education will render a final administrative decision and notify the complainant in writing.
5. If the complainant disagrees with the decision of the Deputy Commissioner of Education in a matter relating to federal law or regulation, the complainant may request a review of the decision by the United States Secretary of Education in accordance with 34 CSR Part 76, section 76.781.
What other recourse is available in resolving complaints?
In some circumstances, complainants may have additional recourse in the courts or through the Administrative Hearing Commission.
Surrogate Parent can be Appointed for Some Students
Pursuant to the requirements of state law 162.997-999 RSMO, the State Board of Education is required to appoint a surrogate parent at such time as it becomes evident that a child with a disability does not have a parent or a person acting as a parent to participate in matters dealing with the provision of special education. For purposes of surrogate parent appointment, "parent" is defined as a biological parent, a guardian, or a person acting, as a parent of a child including,, but not limited to, a grandparent, a step parent, or a foster parent with whom the child lives. The term does not include the State if the child is a ward of the State. The term does not include a person whose parental rights have been terminated.
The local school district is given the responsibility to determine when a child with a disability who requires special education and who resides in the district is without a parent. The district must notify the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the need to appoint a surrogate parent. Training for persons serving as surrogate parents will be provided by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the district.
If you are interested in volunteering to serve as a surrogate parent, more information can be obtained from the district's surrogate parent contact person - Superintendent John Brinkley.