Special Education Dispute Resolution – Overview

You can access the Virginia Department of Education Parents’ Guide to Special Education Dispute Resolution here. The Guide covers several but not all of the options below.


IDEA requires that the IEP team provide parents with Prior Written Notice whenever it proposes or refuses to begin or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child or if they propose or refuse to initiate or change the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A description of the action and why it was proposed or refused must be included among other requirements. For more information see: Prior Written Notice (peatc.org)

The processes described above are only available to students with an IEP. Another remedy available is an Office of Civil Rights (OCR) complaint under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. This remedy is broadly available to all individuals with disabilities who allege discrimination on the basis of disability by a program or entity that receives federal funds.

Office of Civil Rights Complaint –  As stated above, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. This includes discrimination on the basis of disability by the education system. If parents believe that the school district discriminated against their child based on his or her disability and/or their child is being denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE) based on disability, they can file with OCR. Here is some information on the OCR Complaint process.


Kristin who utilizes a wheelchair for mobility. She does not receive special education services but she does receive accommodations under a 504 plan. She is I allowed extra time to get to class and all her classes are on the first floor. Her class is taking a trip to Washington, DC and she is not being allowed to attend because the bus doesn’t have a lift. What should Kristin and her parents do?

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