Special Education

Dispute Resolution Process

Published: 5/7/2024 1:06 PM
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations require states to have a system to resolve disputes between parents of students with disabilities and local school districts.  

Usually, parents and school personnel have a good relationship in which they work together to make decisions about a child’s education. However, there may be times when parents and school personnel do not agree. Often, these disagreements can be resolved by a meeting between the parents and a school representative. By working together informally, parents and school personnel can maintain a positive relationship and can usually resolve their disagreement more quickly than they can address the matter through a more formal process such as a due process hearing or a formal written complaint. 

To help parents understand the rights of students, parents and school districts, please read the information about federal special education regulations. Information about Kentucky special education regulations is available on the Kentucky General Assembly’s webpage. 

If a disagreement arises, the KDE suggests that parents first contact the local director of special education (DoSE) to make the DoSE aware of the problem. A list of school websites is available to help parents locate and contact the local DoSE. Parents usually find this contact most successful if they first look at and familiarize themselves with the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and what it requires. To make the most of the contact with the DoSE, parents should be able to clearly explain their specific questions and concerns. 
If these methods do not resolve the disagreement, three other conflict resolution options are available. 
Parties may resolve IDEA disputes through: 
  • Mediation; 
  • A Formal Written Complaint; or 
  • A Due Process Hearing. ​
Quick Guide to Special Education Dispute Resolution Processes for Parents of Children and Youth (Ages 3 to 21)An explanation of each process, along with the model forms used to request each process can be found below.


Mediation is a voluntary​ and non-adversarial dispute resolution process. The meeting is facilitated by an impartial trained mediator and is focused on the needs of the student. The parents and district meet and work together to settle the dispute and develop a final agreement. 

Successful mediation can help preserve good relationships between the parties involved. Mediation can be requested at any time and does not rule out the use of a formal written complaint or due process hearing.  

Below are links to information about mediation and the mediation request form: 

Formal Written Complaints

A formal written complaint is a written statement alleging that a school district has violated a requirement of state or federal special education law.  
A formal written complaint: 
Must be filed with the Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL)​ within one year of the alleged violation, and 
  • May be filed by a parent of a student with a disability or by any organization or person who believes IDEA has been violated. 
A formal written complaint should not address the following issues:  Violations of civil rights related to a disability (Section 504 or Americans with Disabilities issues), 
  • ​Claims of child abuse or neglect, or 
  • Matters under the sole authority of the local school district, such as employment of a teacher, assignments of teachers, or pupil assignments). 
Although the above issues may involve violations of the law, a formal written complaint addresses only ​violations of IDEA.

Below are links to information about a formal written complaint and the formal written complaint form:  

Due Process Hearings​

A due process hearing is an adversarial process in which a hearing officer resolves IDEA disagreements between parents and the school districts.  The hearing may be requested on any matter involving: 
  • Identification, 
  • Evaluation, 
  • Educational placement and services, and 
  • The provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). 
A due process hearing must be requested in writing and must be filed within three (3) years of the date the parent or district knew or should have known about the issue. Before a hearing may be held, the parties are required to hold a Resolution Meeting, so the district has an opportunity to resolve the dispute that led to the hearing request. The Resolution Meeting is not held if the parties agree to Mediation or if the parties agree to waive the meeting.​ 

The KDE’s OSEEL provides guidance regarding electronic submissions related to the dispute resolution processes available under IDEA in the Procedural Updates to Dispute Resolution​.

For general questions regarding special education, contact:

Office of Special Education and Early Learning
Telephone: (502) 564-4970
Mailing address:
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor

Frankfort, KY 40601

For questions regarding special education due process, contact:

​Office of Legal Services
Telephone: (502) 564-4474
Mailing address:
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601

Educational Advocacy/ Legal Services Organizations

  • Children’s Law Center – Covington
    1002 Russell Street, Covington, KY 41011
    Phone: (859) 431-3313
    Toll-Free: 866-386-8313
    Fax: (859) 655-7553
    Email the Children's Law Center

  • Kentucky Special Parent Involvement Network (KY-SPIN, Inc.)
    10301-B Deering Rd.
    Louisville, KY 40272
    (502) 937-6894
    Fax: (502) 937-6464
    Email KY-SPIN
    KY-SPIN Website

  • Kentucky Protection and Advocacy
    200 Fair Oaks Lane, Fifth Floor
    Frankfort, KY  40601
    (502) 564-2967
    KYPA Website

  • Appalachian Research & Defense Fund: Telephone 866-277-5733

  • Legal Aid of the Bluegrass: Telephone 800-888-8189

  • Legal Aid Society: Telephone 800-292-1862

​IDEA Due Process Hearing Decisions and Appeals

KDE is committed to ensuring that our web content is accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities. If you need information in an alternate format, please contact the KDE accessibility page for assistance.


Michelle Guy
Office of Special Education and Early Learning
Division of IDEA Monitoring and Results
300 Sower Blvd, 4th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-4970 ext.4539




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