Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 20. State Board Of Education
Chapter 81. Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia
12/1/2021

8VAC20-81-200. Complaint resolution procedures.

A. The Virginia Department of Education maintains and operates a complaint system that provides for the investigation and issuance of findings regarding violations of the rights of parents or children with disabilities. The Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee is responsible for the operation of the complaint system. (34 CFR 300.151)

B. A complaint may be filed with the Virginia Department of Education by any individual, organization, or an individual from another state and shall: (34 CFR 300.153)

1. Be in writing;

2. Include the signature and contact information for the complainant;

3. Contain a statement that a local educational agency has violated the Act or these special education regulations;

4. Include the facts upon which the complaint is based;

5. If alleging violations with respect to a specific child, include:

a. The name and address of the residence of the child;

b. The name of the school the child is attending;

c. In the case of a homeless child or youth (within the meaning of § 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act (42 USC 11434a(2)), available contact information for the child, and the name of the school the child is attending;

d. A description of the nature of the problem of the child, including facts relating to the problem; and

e. A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time the complaint is filed;

6. Address an action that occurred not more than one year prior to the date the complaint is received;

7. Contain all relevant documents; and

8. Be provided simultaneously to the local educational agency or public agency serving the child.

C. Within seven days of a receipt of a complaint, the Virginia Department of Education determines if the complaint is sufficient according to subsection B of this section. If it is determined that the complaint is insufficient, the Virginia Department of Education notifies the complainant and the local educational agency in writing. The complainant is given directions for resubmission of the complaint to the Virginia Department of Education.

D. Upon receipt of a valid complaint, the Virginia Department of Education shall initiate an investigation to determine whether the local educational agency is in compliance with applicable law and regulations in accordance with the following procedures: (34 CFR 300.151 and 34 CFR 300.152)

1. Within seven business days of the receipt of a valid complaint, the Virginia Department of Education shall send written notification to each complainant and the local educational agency against which the violation has been alleged, acknowledging receipt of a complaint.

a. The notification sent to the local educational agency shall include:

(1) A copy of the complaint;

(2) An offer of technical assistance in resolving the complaint;

(3) A statement that the local educational agency has the opportunity to propose, at the local educational agency's discretion, a resolution of the complaint;

(4) Notification of the opportunity for the parties to engage voluntarily in mediation;

(5) A request that the local educational agency submit within 10 business days of receipt of the letter of notification either:

(a) Written documentation that the complaint has been resolved; or

(b) If the complaint was not resolved, a written response, including all requested documentation. A copy of the response, along with all submitted documentation, shall simultaneously be sent by the local educational agency to the parents(s) of the child who is the subject of the complaint or their attorney. If the complaint was filed by another individual, the local educational agency shall also simultaneously send the response and submitted documentation to that individual if a release signed by the parent(s) has been provided.

b. The notification sent to the complainant and the local educational agency shall provide the complainant and the local educational agency with an opportunity to submit additional information about the allegations in the complaint, either orally or in writing. The Virginia Department of Education shall establish a timeline in the notification letter for submission of any additional information so as not to delay completion of the investigation within 60 calendar days.

c. If the complaint is filed by an individual other than the child's parent(s) and/or their legal counsel, the Virginia Department of Education sends written notification to the complainant acknowledging receipt of the complaint. The complainant is notified that the parent will be informed of the receipt of the complaint and provided a copy of the complaint and pertinent correspondence. The Virginia Department of Education's final determination of compliance or noncompliance will be issued to the parent(s) and the local educational agency, unless the complainant has obtained and filed the appropriate consent for release of information.

2. If a reply from the local educational agency is not filed with the Virginia Department of Education within 10 business days of the receipt of the notice, the Virginia Department of Education shall send a second notice to the local educational agency advising that failure to respond within seven business days of the date of such notice will result in review by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee for action regarding appropriate sanctions.

3. The Virginia Department of Education shall review the complaint and reply filed by the local educational agency to determine if further investigation or corrective action needs to be taken.

a. If the complaint is also the subject of a due process hearing or if it contains multiple issues of which one or more are part of that due process hearing, the Virginia Department of Education shall:

(1) Set aside any part of the complaint that is being addressed in the due process hearing until the conclusion of the hearing; and

(2) Resolve any issue in the complaint that is not a part of the due process hearing involving the same parties.

b. If an issue raised in the complaint has previously been decided in a due process hearing involving the same parties, the Virginia Department of Education shall inform the complainant that the due process hearing decision is binding.

c. The Virginia Department of Education shall resolve a complaint alleging that the local educational agency has failed to implement a due process hearing decision.

4. During the course of the investigation, the Virginia Department of Education shall:

a. Conduct an investigation of the complaint that shall include a complete review of all relevant documentation and may include interviews with appropriate individuals, and an independent on-site investigation, if necessary.

b. Consider all facts and issues presented and the applicable requirements specified in law, regulations, or standards.

c. Make a determination of compliance or noncompliance on each issue in the complaint based upon the facts and applicable law, regulations, or standards and notify the parties in writing of the findings and the bases for such findings.

(1) The Virginia Department of Education has 60 calendar days after the valid written complaint is received to carry out the investigation and to resolve the complaint.

(2) An extension of the 60-calendar-day time limit may occur if exceptional circumstances exist with respect to a particular complaint or if the parties involved agree to extend the time to engage in mediation or other alternative means of dispute resolution.

(3) Both parties to the complaint will be notified in writing by the Virginia Department of Education of the exceptional circumstances, if applicable, and the extended time limit.

d. Ensure that the Virginia Department of Education's final decision is effectively implemented, if needed, through:

(1) Technical assistance activities;

(2) Negotiations; and

(3) Corrective actions to achieve compliance.

e. Report findings of noncompliance and corresponding recommendations to the party designated by the Superintendent of Public Instruction for review, or where appropriate, directly to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for further action.

f. Notify the parties in writing of any needed corrective actions and the specific steps that shall be taken by the local educational agency to bring it into compliance with applicable timelines.

5. In resolving a complaint in which a failure to provide appropriate services is found, the Virginia Department of Education shall address:

a. The failure to provide appropriate services, including corrective action appropriate to address the needs of the child, including compensatory services, monetary reimbursement, or other corrective action appropriate to the needs of the child; and

b. Appropriate future provision of services for all children with disabilities.

E. Parties to the complaint procedures shall have the right to appeal the final decision to the Virginia Department of Education within 30 calendar days of the issuance of the decision in accordance with procedures established by the Virginia Department of Education.

F. When the local educational agency develops a plan of action to correct the violations, such plan shall include timelines to correct violations not to exceed 30 business days unless circumstances warrant otherwise. The plan of action will also include a description of all changes contemplated and shall be subject to approval of the Virginia Department of Education.

G. If the local educational agency does not come into compliance within the period of time set forth in the notification, the matter will be referred to the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee for an agency review and referral to the Virginia Board of Education, if deemed necessary.

H. If, after reasonable notice and opportunity for a hearing by the Virginia Board of Education, under the provisions of 8VAC20-81-290, it is determined that the local educational agency has failed to comply with applicable laws and regulations and determines that compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means, then the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall issue a decision in writing stating that state and federal funds for the education of children with disabilities shall not be made available to that local educational agency until there is no longer any failure to comply with the applicable law or regulation. (§ 22.1-214 E of the Code of Virginia)

I. The Virginia Department of Education's complaint procedures shall be widely disseminated to parents and other interested individuals, including parent training and information centers, protection and advocacy agencies, independent living centers, and other appropriate entities. (34 CFR 300.151)

Statutory Authority

§§ 22.1-16 and 22.1-214 of the Code of Virginia; 20 USC § 1400 et seq.; 34 CFR Part 300.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 25, Issue 21, eff. July 7, 2009.

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