Special Education

Special Education Due Process Hearings

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees children with educational disabilities the right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The IDEA and Missouri’s State Plan for Special Education require schools to identify and evaluate children with educational disabilities, provide them an appropriate educational placement, and ensure they receive a free and appropriate public education.

Sometimes disputes over these issues arise between a child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and their school. Missouri provides several dispute-resolution options. One of those options involves the Administrative Hearing Commission: the due process hearing.

A parent, guardian, or responsible public agency may request a due process hearing by filing a due process complaint with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Office of Special Education . (The Administrative Hearing Commission cannot accept a complaint directly; you must file with DESE.) The complaint must contain the following elements:

   (1) The name of the student;

   (2) The address of the student’s residence;

   (3) The name of the student’s school;

   (4) If the student is a homeless child or youth, the student’s contact information and the name of the student’s school;

   (5) A description of the nature of the problem of the student relating to the proposed or refused action, including
   facts relating to the problem; and,

   (6) A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available at the time.

DESE provides a fillable complaint form on their website.

A commissioner of the Administrative Hearing Commission presides over the due process hearing, during which the parties present evidence and argument regarding their dispute. Parents and guardians can represent themselves in proceedings before the Commission or hire an attorney to represent them. After the hearing, the commissioner evaluates the information presented by the parties and issues a written decision resolving the dispute.

Due process hearings involving the Commission are for IDEA disputes only. The Commission lacks authority to address disputes arising from other authorities governing the rights of persons with disabilities. This means we cannot decide issues arising from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Available links and resources:

DESE, Office of Special Education Website

Missouri State Plan for Special Education, Part B 2022

IDEA Federal Regulations

Missouri Statutes:

Forms – The below are templates for witness and exhibit lists. You are not required to use these forms.