Filing a Special Education Complaint with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE)
If you have concerns that the school district is not following federal or state special education requirements, you have the right to file a special education complaint in writing.
Prior to filing a complaint, PACER Center encourages you to contact the special education director of your school district. You may be able to resolve the concerns at the local level. If not, use the information below to help you file a special education complaint with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).
This option is available for IEP (Individualized Education Program), IIIP (Individual Interagency Intervention Plan), and IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) meetings.
Parents Need to Know
- Why request: If you have concerns that the school district is not following federal or state special education laws, regulations, or rules.
- How to file: Download and complete a Special Education State Complaint form and send it directly to [email protected]
- Who is involved: Person filing the complaint, Minnesota Department of Education complaint investigator, special education director and other school district staff the Minnesota Department of Education complaint investigator may interview during the complaint investigation.
- Timeline: You have one calendar year from the date of an alleged violation of special education law to file a complaint. The Minnesota Department of Education has 60 calendar days from the date your complaint is received to investigate and write a decision. Exceptional circumstances may extend the investigation time frame.
- Decision maker: Minnesota Department of Education Division of Compliance & Assistance.
- Outcome: The Minnesota Department of Education complaint investigator sends copies of the final decision to you and the school district. If no violation is found, the file is closed. If the school district is found in violation of special education law, the Minnesota Department of Education may develop a corrective action plan to resolve the problem and this will be included in the decision. Either party may appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals within 60 calendar days.
Include the Required Information in Your Written Complaint
- Basic Information:
- Student’s name, address, and the name of the school the student attends
- Your name, phone number(s) where the MDE complaint investigator can reach you, address, (if different from the student’s), and email address (if applicable)
- Statement of Alleged Violation
- List each violation of federal or state special education requirements you believe occurred
- Check your calendar. The violations you listed must have happened within one year of the date MDE receives your complaint.
- Statement of Facts
- For each violation, list the facts that support your claim
- Focus on brief descriptions of key events, specific dates, related documents, and the names of individuals involved
- Proposed Resolution
- List action steps you want the district to take to resolve your complaint
- The MDE complaint investigator will consider your suggestions if the district is found in violation of special education law
Submit Your Signed Complaint to the Required Recipients
Minnesota Department of Education (MDE)
- Mail, hand-deliver, fax, or scan and email your complaint to:
Minnesota Department of Education
Special Education Dispute Resolution Supervisor
Division of Compliance and Assistance
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113-4266
- Alternative contact methods can be found on the MDE website
PACER Center encourages you to keep a copy of the complaint for your own records
The School District
- Federal law requires that you send a copy of your complaint to the school district at the same time that you send it to the MDE
- You can mail your complaint to the superintendent and/or the special education director.
Within 60 calendar days of receiving the complaint, an MDE complaint investigator will make an independent decision about whether the school violated special education law. You will be notified by mail of the decision, which is binding. If violations are found, the MDE may develop a corrective action plan to fix the problem. If no violations are found, the MDE will close the file. Either party may file an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals within 60 calendar days of receiving a copy of the final decision.
Examples of Possible Violations and Resolutions
The school district did not invite a general education teacher to the Annual Review meeting for my child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
The district will schedule another IEP team meeting which includes a general education teacher and all school staff will receive training on who are the required members of the IEP team.
The classroom teacher has not been providing the accommodations listed on my daughter’s IEP, so she hasn’t had access to the assistive technology she needs to complete writing assignments.
My daughter will be provided the opportunity to re-do her writing assignments for a new grade, using the assistive technology devices that are documented on her IEP.
For the last three months, my son’s special education teacher has been on sick leave. He has not received the specialized instruction written in his IEP.
The district will provide my son with compensatory services to make up for all the minutes of specialized instruction he missed for the last three months.
- Special Education Complaints — Minnesota Department of Education
- Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC)
The Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) addresses the unique legal needs of persons with disabilities. A statewide project, MDLC provides free civil legal assistance to individuals with disabilities on legal issues that are related to their disability.
- Minnesota Statutes: 125A.44 Complaint Procedure
- IDEA Special Education Written State Complaints Parent Guide & Companion Video — The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)