Rights and Dispute Resolution Information
Students with disabilities have rights, under federal and state laws, to receive special education services that are appropriate for their unique needs.
If a parent, guardian, or student feels that the student’s special education rights have been violated, they have a right to utilize the dispute resolution system. Student and parental rights are outlined below.
Procedural Safeguards/ Educational Rights
The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 2004 protects the educational rights of students with special education needs.
Parents Are the Key: Provides a detailed overview of the rights and responsibilities of parents of children with special education needs in Delaware.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA 2004): Federal laws governing students with disabilities and IEPs.
Delaware Regulations: Special Populations: Provides a detailed overview of the rights and responsibilities of parents of children with special education needs in Delaware. Delaware laws governing students with disabilities and IEPs.
Delaware Procedural Safeguards Parent and Child Rights in Special Education (English) / En Espanol/ Haitian Creole / Arabic / Chinese : Provides a detailed overview of the rights and responsibilities of parents of children with special education needs in Delaware. State of Delaware laws governing students with disabilities and IEPs.
Ways parents can access the dispute resolution system to help resolve conflict include:
Parents and guardians have a right to request an IEP meeting at any time to discuss a student’s education plan and address concerns. IEP meetings can be a powerful way to resolve disagreements. To schedule a meeting, contact the student's IEP team.
Conflict Resolution Program
The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) contracts with the Conflict Resolution Program at the University of Delaware to provide two services that parents and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) (LEAs refer to school districts and charter schools) can utilize at no cost:
The role of the facilitator is to assist the IEP team members in communicating effectively in order to reach decisions that are in the best interest of the student.
Parents, guardians, districts and charter schools may request IEP Meeting Facilitation by calling 302-831-8158.
- Special Education Partnership for the Amicable Resolution of Conflict (SPARC) Mediation Services (English) / En Espanol / Haitian Creole
When participating in SPARC Mediation, a third person (mediator) takes a neutral position and helps the parents and LEA problem solve for the benefit of the student. Decisions made with a mediator are legally binding. All participants must agree to participate in mediation before a request for mediation can be granted.
- To request mediation, please see the Request for Special Education Mediation Form (English) / En Espanol / Haitian Creole / Arabic / Chinese
- Preparing for Mediation
Any party who feels that an LEA has violated IDEA and/or Delaware law has the option to submit a complaint to the DDOE within one year of the violation. Administrative/State Complaints are appropriate when there is a clear denial of services or placement. By filing a complaint with the DDOE, an individual or group is asking DDOE to investigate an LEA and decide if the student’s special education rights were violated. DDOE must investigate the complaint within 60 days and issue a decision.
For more information regarding Administrative/State Complaints, please see the following:
- Federal Regulations for Administrative/State Complaints 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.151 through 153 .
- State Regulations for Administrative/State Complaints 14 DE Admin Code §§ 923.51.0 through 53.0
- Special Education State Complaint Information Guide (English) / En Espanol / Haitian Creole / Arabic / Chinese
- To file a State Complaint: Special Education State Complaint Form (English) / En Espanol / Haitian Creole / Arabic / Chinese
- State Complaint Findings for Delaware
Students with disabilities and their families have a right to file a due process complaint. By filing a due process complaint, one is requesting an impartial due process hearing regarding a student’s education services under the federal IDEA and Delaware law. LEAs may also request a hearing. A due process hearing is a legally binding way to resolve disputes whenever a party feels that a student’s special education rights were violated.
A parent or public agency may file a due process complaint related to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child with a disability, or the provision of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the child. All due process complaints must include sufficient details of the violation(s). A due process complaint must be received within two (2) years of a violation.
The hearing panel must conduct the hearing and issue a decision within 45 days after the 30 day resolution period. At a due process hearing, the complaint goes before a three-judge panel composed of a Delaware attorney, an educator with special education experience, and a non-educator familiar with special education.
Due process findings can be appealed to the Federal District Court or Delaware State Family Court within 90 days of the decision.
For more information regarding due process, as well as information regarding resolution meetings, expedited hearings, and appeals, please see the following:
- Special Education Due Process Information Guide (English) / En Espanol / Haitian Creole / Arabic / Chinese
- To file a Due Process Complaint: Due Process Complaint Form and Request for Due Process Hearing (English) / En Espanol / Haitian Creole / Arabic / Chinese
- Due Process Hearing Decisions for Delaware
For more information about the rights of students with disabilities, their parents and educators in Delaware, contact Exceptional Children Resources at 302-735-4210.