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Missouri DESE NCLB Complaint Procedures

  1. Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education 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 C.

    Who May File a Complaint

    Any local education agency (LEA), consortium of LEAs, organization, parent, teacher, or member of the public may file a complaint.

    Definition of a Complaint

    There are both formal and informal complaint procedures.

    A formal complaint must be a written, signed statement that includes:

    • 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

    • facts, including documentary evidence that supports the allegation, and

    • the specific requirement, statute, or regulation being violated.

    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 Education Agency

    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:

    • disseminating procedures to the LEA school board,

    • central filing of procedures within the district,

    • addressing informal complaints in a prompt and courteous manner,

    • notifying the SEA within 15 days of receipt of written complaints,

    • timely investigating and processing of complaints within 30 days, with an additional 30 days if exceptional conditions exist,

    • 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

    • 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 sections below.

    Informal Complaints Received by the SEA Office

    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 Office

    • 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, statue violated and facts on which the complaint is based, will be initiated

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.


    Appeals

    Appeal to the SEA

    • 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, statue violated and facts on which the complaint is based, will be initiated.

    • 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.

    • 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.


    Decision

    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 SEA

    • 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 based.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

    • Complaints against LEAs received from the U.S. Department of Education will be processed as though they had been received initially at the SEA.

    • A report of final disposition of the complaint will be filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

    • 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.

    Procedure Dissemination

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • DESE will also keep records of any complaints filed through this policy.