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Filing a Complaint with Texas Education Agency (TEA)

How are complaints filed?

Complaints are filed by writing a letter to TEA or by using a form available on the TEA website. Whether you write a letter or use the TEA form, you must sign it or it will not be processed as a complaint. IDEA requires that the complaint be in writing; therefore, a telephone call to TEA will not be considered a complaint. However, parents can call TEA at 1-800-252-9668 to discuss problems they are having; TEA however, will NOT consider these to be actual complaints until they receive a complaint in writing. TEA's address is:

Texas Education Agency
Division of IDEA Coordination
1701 North Congress Avenue Austin, Texas 78701
Fax: 512-463-9560

You may want to send the letter by certified mail so that you have a record of when it was received by TEA. However, you can also fax it. You must also send a copy of the complaint to the school district. In your complaint, be sure to include the name and title of the school district employee you sent the complaint to and how it was sent (hand delivery, fax or mail). Parents should keep a copy of the letter as well as copies of TEA's responses. Also, parents should keep copies of any letters that they send to the district and any letters that the district sends to them, as well as copies of all of their child's records. Parents should also keep notes about any phone conversations theyhave with TEA or district staff.

Read more and find sample letters on How to File a TEA Complaint from disabilityrightstx.org.

What does the TEA do with the complaint?

TEA has 60 calendar days to investigate the complaint and decide whether the district is violating IDEA. TEA may extend its time limit only if exceptional circumstances exist with respect to a particular complaint. Usually, TEA sends a letter to the parent telling them that TEA has received the complaint and summarizing the issues in the complaint. It is important to read this letter carefully to make sure that TEA understands the complaint correctly. Some of the issues that the parent put into the complaint may not have been correctly summarized by TEA. If this is the case, immediately send a follow-up letter pointing out the misinterpretation and restating your complaint.

Most investigations are done by a TEA investigator in Austin. However, TEA can make an independent on-site investigation, if it determines that an investigation is necessary. During the investigation process, TEA must give the parent an opportunity to submit additional information, either orally or in writing, about the issues in the complaint. Additionally, it must review all relevant information and make an independent determination as to whether the school district violated IDEA.

What should the complaint say?

If you write a letter rather than use the TEA form, make sure you say specifically that this is a complaint and that you are requesting a TEA investigation.

Provide the student's name, age, school he/she attends, school district, and the disability.

Be specific about the facts. Provide dates, names, etc. If you believe that the issue is a systemic one (a problem that affects other students with disabilities in the district), state that in the complaint (e.g., “The Smalltown ISD has not had an occupational therapist since last year and none of the students are receiving occupational therapy,” or “The district does not make individual determinations of least restrictive environment. All students who have medical support needs are educated in the selfcontained classroom at John Doe Middle School.”).Attach any important documents (e.g., ARD documents, letters, evaluations, and/or progress reports) that will help TEA understand your complaint. If you do not have copies of the documents, at least refer to the names and approximate dates of documents in the letter. For example: 

  • “I disagree with the speech evaluation conducted by the school district in April, 2005."
  • “My child's current IEP (enclosed) requires that she receive two hours of occupational therapy per week and she is only getting one hour per week.”
  • “The teacher wrote in my child's communication notebook (page enclosed) that my child did not go on the field trip in March of 1999 because the bus was not wheelchair accessible.”

TEA must obtain and review all relevant information, including the documents described or provided in the complaint, as a part of its investigation.

If you know what you want TEA to do to resolve the complaint, request a specific action that you would like TEA to take. For example:

  • “I request that TEA order the district to provide compensatory services to my child because of the school’s failure to implement the reading program required in his IEP. I also request that the compensatory services include a reading tutor.”
  • “I request that TEA order the district to conduct an ARD meeting to consider the recommendations found in the independent evaluation conducted by Dr. Smith, including the recommendation that my child be educated in the regular fourth grade classroom.

How does TEA notify the parent about its decision?

TEA will send the parent and the school district a letter that addresses each issue (allegation) in the complaint and that states:

  • TEA’s findings in its investigation of each allegation,
  • TEA’s conclusions on whether the district violated the law as alleged by the complainant on each issue, and
  • TEA’s reasons for its final decision(s). If TEA decides the information obtained during the investigation supports the allegation (i.e., that the parent was right), it will “substantiate” the allegation.

If TEA decides the information does not support the allegation (i.e., that the parent was not right), it will deny or “not substantiate” the allegation. Each allegation that is substantiated (i.e., is in favor of the parent) should be followed by directives to the district on what it must do. This section is usually referred to as the “required corrective actions.” The letter should also give a time by which the district must implement any corrective actions. 

What does TEA require the district to do if it decides that the district has violated IDEA?

If TEA concludes that the school district violated IDEA, it has the authority to order the district to provide compensatory services, monetary damages, or other corrective action appropriate to the needs of the student. Compensatory services are services that TEA requires the district to provide in order to “make up” for failing to provide appropriate services in the past. For example, TEA could order a school district to provide extra therapy services to a student who did not receive needed therapy services in the past, or could order a school district to provide additional tutoring or summer services for a student who has not been provided appropriate academic services during the school year. TEA could also order the district to convene an ARD meeting to determine an appropriate placement for the student, using the correct legal standards for making the placement determination.

If the complaint is about services to a group of students or, if the complaint or investigation indicates there is a district-wide problem, TEA must address appropriate future provision of services for all children with disabilities in the district. For example, if TEA finds that the district fails to make individual determinations of least restrictive environment for many of its students, then TEA will require the district to take a corrective action that remedies the problem across the district, such as holding new ARD meetings for all of the students affected in order to reconsider the least restrictive environment determination.

Additionally, TEA must see that the district gets any needed technical assistance with implementing the corrective actions. Technical assistance includes information and training provided to district staff. Currently, most technical assistance is provided by the regional education service centers (ESCs). There are twenty education service centers in Texas, and each ESC not only provides services to the districts in its region, but also provides information and training regarding specific issues outside their region. Districts can also get technical assistance from other sources, if it is needed to implement a corrective action plan. 

Can the parent still file a request for a due process hearing?

Yes, however, if a due process hearing has already been requested on an issue in the complaint, TEA will not investigate that issue until after the conclusion of the hearing.

Read more and find sample letters on How to File a TEA Complaint from disabilityrightstx.org.

Frequently Asked Questions