Federal Policies and
NCLB COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
The Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), Title IX
Part C. Sec. 9304(a)(3)(C) requires the Missouri Department of
Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) to adopt procedures for
resolving complaints regarding operations of programs authorized
under the Act, including Title I, Title II, Title III, Title IV
(Part A), Title V, Title VI, and Title VII and Title IX, part
Who may file a complaint
Any local education agency (LEA), consortium of LEAs,
organization, parent, teacher, or member of the public may file a
Definition of a Complaint
There are both formal and informal complaint procedures.
A formal complaint must be a written, signed statement that
1. An allegation that a federal statute or regulation
applicable to the state educational agency (SEA) or a local
education agency (LEA) program has been violated,
2. Facts, including documentary evidence that supports the
3. The specific requirement, statute, or regulation being
Alternatives for Filing Complaints
It is federal and state intent that complaints are resolved at a
level nearest the LEA as possible. As described below, formal
complaints filed with the SEA will be forwarded to the appropriate
LEA for investigation and resolution. Informal complaints made to
the SEA will be subject of an initial investigation by the SEA, but
will be forwarded to the LEA if a formal complaint evolves. Precise
processes in both instances are described below.
Informal and Formal Complaints Received by the Local
Informal and formal complaints filed with the LEA concerning
NCLB program operations in that LEA are to be investigated and
resolved by the LEA according to locally developed procedures, when
at all possible. Such procedures will provide for:
1. Disseminating procedures to the LEA school board,
2. Central filing of procedures within the district,
3. Addressing informal complaints in a prompt and
4. Notifying the SEA within 15 days of receipt of written
5. Timely investigating and processing of complaints
within 30 days, with an additional 30 days if exceptional
6. Disseminating complaint findings and resolutions to all
parties to the complaint and the LEA school board. Such findings
and resolutions also shall be available to parents, teachers and
other members of the general public, provided by the LEA, free of
charge, if requested, and
7. Appealing to the Missouri Department of Elementary
& Secondary Education within 15 days
Appeals to the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary
Education will be processed according to the procedures outlined in
Informal Complaints Received by the SEA
Informal complaints (i.e., verbal and/or anonymous) to the SEA
by individuals (who may ask not to be identified to the LEA)
concerning program operations in an LEA will be investigated by the
SEA, according to procedures deemed most appropriate by the SEA,
within 10 days of receipt of the complaint. Findings of this
investigation shall be reported to the complainant within 10
additional days. In the event that the complainant requests further
investigation or a hearing, the complainant must file a signed
written complaint. This formal complaint will be processed
according to procedures outlined in sections below.
Formal Complaints Initially Received by the SEA
1. Record. Upon receipt of a written complaint, a record
of the source and nature of the complaint, including the applicable
program involved in the complaint, statute violated and facts on
which the complaint is based, will be initiated.
2. Notification of LEA. Within 15 days of receipt of the
complaint, a written communication will notify the district
superintendent and the district NCLB coordinator of the complaint
filed with the SEA. Upon receipt of the communication, the LEA will
initiate its complaint procedures as set forth above. If the
complaint is that an LEA is not providing equitable services to
private school children, it also will be filed with the U.S.
Secretary of Education.
3. Report by LEA. Within 20 days of receipt of the
complaint, the LEA will advise the SEA of the status of the
complaint resolution proceedings and, at the end of 30 days, will
submit a written summary of the LEA investigation and complaint
resolution. This report is considered public record and may be made
available to parents, teachers, and other members of the general
public. A copy of this procedure also will be filed with the U.S.
Secretary of Education, if it involves equity of services to
private school children.
4. Verification. Within ten days of receipt of the written
summary of a complaint resolution, the DESE office will verify the
resolution of the complaint through an on-site visit, letter or
telephone call(s). Verification will include direct contact with
the complainant. If the complaint is about equity of services to
private school children, the U.S. Secretary of Education shall also
be given copies of all related communications.
Appeal to the SEA
1. Record. Upon receipt of a written appeal to a complaint
unresolved at the LEA level, a record of the source and nature of
the complaint, including the applicable program involved in the
complaint, statute violated and facts on which the complaint is
based, will be initiated.
2. Investigation. The SEA will initiate an investigation
within 10 days, which will be concluded within 30 days from receipt
of the appeal. Such investigation may include a site visit if the
SEA determines that an on-site investigation is necessary. By
stipulation of all concerned, this investigation may be continued
beyond the 30-day limit.
3. Hearing. If required by the SEA, or formally requested
by parties to the complaint, this investigation will include an
evidentiary hearing(s) before an SEA Division Director acting as
chairperson and designated staff personnel. Conduct of such
hearings will follow the procedures outlined in state rules. The
hearing proceedings shall be tape recorded and the recording
preserved for preparation of any transcript required on appeal.
Within 10 days of conclusion of the investigation and/or
evidentiary hearing(s), the SEA will render a decision detailing
the reasons for its decision and transmitting this decision to the
LEA, the complainant, and the district school board.
Recommendations and details of the decision are to be implemented
within 15 days of the decision being given to the LEA. This 15-day
implementation period may be extended at the discretion of the SEA
Division Director. The complainant or the LEA may appeal the
decision of the SEA.
Formal LEA Complaints Against
1. Record. The SEA will record the source, and nature of
the complaint, including the applicable program involved in the
complaint, statue violated and facts on which the complaint is
2. Decision. The SEA decision will be rendered within 15
days of the complaint receipt. The LEA will be promptly notified of
the SEA's decision.
3. Appeal. The LEA may appeal the decision of the SEA to
the SEA review board within 30 days of receipt of the decision.
Procedures under the "Appeal to the State Agency Review Board"
section will be followed.
4. Second Appeal. An applicant has the right to appeal the
decision of the SEA Review Board to the U.S. Secretary of
Education. The applicant shall file written notice of the appeal
with the Secretary within 20 days after the applicant has been
notified by the SEA of its decision.
Complaints Against LEAs Received from the
United States Department of Education
1. Complaints against LEAs received from the U.S.
Department of Education will be processed as though they had been
received initially at the SEA.
2. A report of final disposition of the complaint will be
filed with the U.S. Department of Education.
3. These procedures shall not prevent the SEA from
partially or wholly interrupting funding of any LEA IASA program or
taking any other action it deems appropriate.
1. This procedure will be disseminated to all interested
parties through the agency webpage at http://dese.mo.gov and to
subscribers to the Federal Programs listserv.
2. This guidance will be distributed through regional and
statewide meetings with Federal Programs Coordinators. LEAs are
asked to incorporate the elements of the complaint procedure into
their own policies and procedures.
3. DESE will also keep records of any complaints filed
through this policy.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not
discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex,
disability, or age in its programs and activities. Inquiries
related to Department programs and to the location of services,
activities, and facilities that are accessible by persons with
disabilities may be directed to the Jefferson State Office
Building, Civil Rights Compliance (Title VI/Title IX/504/ADA/Age
Act), 5th Floor, 205 Jefferson Street, Jefferson City, MO
65102-0480; telephone number 573-526-4757 or Relay Missouri