Advocating for Your Student
Students with disabilities have a right to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Parents/guardians of students with disabilities have rights safeguarded by state and federal law, including the right to meaningfully participate in meetings regarding the identification, evaluation, eligibility, and educational placement of their student.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has published a comprehensive manual that discusses your rights under the IDEA:
ISBE’s Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois.
The Notice of Procedural Safeguards describes the legal rights afforded to adult students with disabilities and parents/guardians of students with disabilities.
If your child has an IEP, the Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Parents/Guardians of Students with Disabilities is a document that must be provided by your IEP team at least once a year, as well as under other circumstances, including upon your request.
Effective Dispute Resolution Guide
Communication is KEY to your child’s success. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s progress or behavior, please speak to the appropriate school staff. Regular communication can resolve many concerns.
If concerns arise regarding the special education evaluation, placement and/or services of your child, it is recommended that parents start with the informal dispute process first, as most, if not all, issues can be resolved at this level. However, parents have the right to select and proceed, at any time, with any of the formal complaint options discussed further below and in the Notice of Procedural Safeguards.
- Step 1: Talk to your child’s teacher(s) and/or service provider(s).
- Step 2: Talk to the school case manager.
- Step 3: Talk to the school principal or assistant principal.
- Step 4: Contact the District representative.
- Step 5: Contact a Parent Involvement Specialist, or call ODLSS at 773-553-1800.
If you need assistance with finding personnel contact information, please call 773-553-1800.
IEP facilitation is a process that helps foster effective communication between parents and districts as they develop a mutually acceptable Individualized Education Program (IEP). This process may be used as a preventative measure in which a trained facilitator promotes whole team participation, acknowledging and addressing differing opinions in a respectful and neutral manner. For more information, visit ISBE State-Sponsored IEP Facilitation.
If you cannot work out disagreements or concerns with the IEP team or other District personnel, you have the right to elevate your concerns. A brief outline of the three formal processes follows:
- Formal Mediation
A process in which parents and school personnel try to settle disagreements with the help of a trained mediator provided by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Contact the ISBE mediation coordinator at 217-782-5589.
- Formal Due Process Request
A formal hearing process to settle disagreements between parents and schools. A due process hearing is similar to a court of law and generally follows a formal process, with opening statements, cross examinations of witnesses, and closing statements. Parents must request a due process hearing with the Superintendent (CEO) of CPS in writing.
- Formal ISBE Complaint
A written complaint about special education issues concerning a child (or children) filed with the Illinois State Board of Education that is investigated by a state-appointed employee with expertise in special education.
Address complaints to:
If you believe that a school or the District has violated this law, contact the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) by contacting the OCR Hotline at 800-421-3481 or visit the ISBE website for more information about filing a complaint under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
ISBE Advocacy Resources for Parents/Guardians [ English ]