Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports 

Welcome to ODLSS' Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports section of the website! Parents are important partners in educating and preparing our students for a successful future. We look forward to our continued partnership as we strive to ensure that all students are life-ready, college-prepared, and/or career-ready after graduation.

Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports is a place where you can find support and answers. We encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity offered in helping you become an active partner in your child's education. You will find links to the many ways in which we provide support and training, including links to parent training and information organizations, advocacy organizations, disability support groups, recreational opportunities, fact sheets and more. Again, you are an important partner in your child's education. Together we can make success happen.

If you are the parent of a student with disability and need assistance with connecting with the proper personnel, have questions about the special education process and/or would like general support, including IEP support, please contact The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services at 773-553-1905.


Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports Information

Understanding Your Rights

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

“The federal law mandating that all children with disabilities have available to them a free, appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living.”

Parents of Students with Disabilities

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. Click the version you would like to view:

Procedural Safeguards

The Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Parents/Guardians of Students with Disabilities is a document you are to be provided at least once a year as well as under other circumstances, including upon your request.

Informal 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 staff at ODLSS at Central office

If you need assistance with finding personnel contact information, please call 773-553-1800.

Dispute Resolution/Formal Complaints

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 is below:

  • 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. A form is also available online.
  • 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: ISBE, Special Education Division, 100 N. First Street, Springfield, IL, 62777-0001 or 217-782-5589. A form is also available online.

Procedural Safeguards Resources Advocate List

ISBE Guidelines for Choosing a Lay Advocate in Special education

Guidelines for Choosing an Attorney for Special Education Representation

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

For Information about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, please visit .

CSP Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 Policy, and State,




You can download a Guide for Writing IEPs here. A US Department of Education IEP/Evaluations/Reevaluations FAQ document can be accessed here.

A student's IEP goals should relate to the elements of the general education curriculum (or pre-readiness skills) that will allow the student to participate and progress in the general education program. IEP goals target the student's educational needs set forth in the student's present levels of performance. The goals are based upon the ways in which the student's disability(ies) adversely affect the student's ability to perform in the classroom. The IEP need not include goals that target areas which are not adversely affected by the student's disability(ies).
The student may attend and participate in the IEP meeting if the parent(s) determine that he/she should be present. The student may attend selected parts of the IEP meeting, rather than being present for the entire meeting.
Eligibility for special education and related services begins with a request for evaluation. Fourteen (14) school days later, the district and parent(s) meet in order to decide whether an evaluation is necessary. If an evaluation is necessary, district and parents determine which domains will be evaluated. Parents are asked to consent to the evaluation process. Once the parent provides written informed consent, the evaluation process begins. The District has up to sixty (60) school days to complete the evaluation. By the end of the sixtieth (60th) school day, the evaluation team and parent(s) meet in order to determine whether or not the student is eligible for special education. If the student is deemed eligible for special education and related services, the parent(s) are asked to consent to placement. Placement may begin ten (10) calendar days after the parent provides such consent (or sooner, if the parent gives permission.) (Adapted from, "Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois", Illinois State Board of Education Special Education and Support Services, June 2009)
A "504 Plan" may be created for a student, pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law is not a special education law. Rather, it is an "anti-discrimination" law. It requires any person or agency receiving federal funds to create and implement policies to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It applies to school districts, as well areas outside of education (i.e. labor, employment, grants, contracts, etc.). The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a special education law that provides special education and related services to all eligible students. Unlike IDEA, which lists specific categories of disability, Section 504 defines "disability" as an individual who has "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." A "504 Plan" describes how the district will support the student's disability and provide access to school programs.
"Special education" is "specifically designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and instruction in physical education." 20 U.S.C. Section 1041(29).
Access to, and participation in, extracurricular athletic opportunities provide important health and social benefits to all students, particularly those with disabilities. A school district that offers extracurricular athletics must do so in such manner as is necessary to afford qualified students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation. This means making reasonable modifications and providing those aids and services that are necessary to ensure an equal opportunity to participate, unless the school district can show that doing so would be a fundamental alteration to its program.

In Illinois, post-secondary transition planning must commence by the time the student reaches 14 1/2 years of age (or sooner, if appropriate). The transition planning period continues until the student graduates or turns 22. During this period, the IEP Team develops a plan that will enable the student to move from school to adult life. This plan encompasses education, vocational training, employment, adult services, adult education, community experiences, related services, daily living skills, and independent living. The plan should be based upon the student's strengths, interests, preferences, and needs.
Yes. The district and parent may agree that IEP Team members may participate in an IEP Team Meeting through the use of alternative means. These methods may include conference calls, video conferences, web meetings, etc.
Schools have a grave responsibility for keeping students and staff safe. If a student behaves in a way that is dangerous to him/herself or others, the school must act to keep students and staff safe. Special education laws and safeguards cannot impede or interfere with the safety of others. A student with a disability can receive the same discipline as non-disabled students - except that out-of-school suspensions cannot exceed 10 cumulative days in a school year unless the additional suspensions do not constitute a change in placement. If a student faces a suspension that could result in removal from education for more than 10 consecutive days, the district must conduct a Manifestation Determination Review ("MDR") with the parents and members of the IEP Team. (Adapted from "Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois," Illinois State Board of Education Special Education and Support Services, June 2009)
Sometimes, parents and school personnel cannot agree on issues that arise at IEP meetings. When this occurs, the Team members should make a good faith effort at reaching a consensus through dialogue and negotiation. If Team members cannot reach consensus through these means, mediation may be used as an option to resolve the conflict. Parents may also file a state complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education. Alternatively, parties may initiate a due process hearing. In this case, parties present formal arguments, witness testimony, and documentary evidence to support their positions. An "impartial hearing officer" listens to the parties' positions and issues a written decision that is binding on both parties.
A student with an IEP is subject to the same promotion standards as their non-disabled peers. However, an IEP team may determine that the standard promotion criteria should be modified for an individual student. The parent is an equal member of the IEP Team and has the right to meaningfully participate in this discussion. The student's promotion to the next grade will be dependent on whether the student has met the standard promotion criteria or modified criteria, if applicable.
The Office of Special Education Programs states that "[IDEA] does not address the use of audio or video recording devices at IEP meetings, and no other Federal statute either authorizes or prohibits the recording of an IEP meeting by either a parent or a school official." While federal law does not prohibit parents or school representatives from recording IEP meetings, school districts may prohibit, limit, regulate, or require recording devices at IEP meetings. Districts should permit a parent to use a recording device if it will enable the parent to meaningfully participate in the meeting and/or understand the IEP.
Sometimes, students with IEPs are entitled to "extended school year" (ESY) services. ESY includes special education and related services that are provided to the student beyond the normal school year, at no cost to the parent(s). ESY is to be provided if the child's IEP Team determines that the services are necessary to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). No single factor determines whether or not ESY is appropriate, but the discussion should address whether or not the student will regress in knowledge and/or skills over the summer months. The IEP Team decides which services will be provided during ESY, as well as whether the services will be provided in school, home, or community.
Yes, IEP Team members are not obligated to attend an IEP Meeting if the parent and school agree (in writing) that the individual's presence if unnecessary because his/her areas of the curriculum and/or related services is not being discussed or modified in the meeting. A parent can also excuse (in writing) a Team member whose areas of curriculum and/or related services are being discussed at the meeting if the individual submits written input to the parent and IEP Team prior to the IEP Meeting.
Yes. A parent may bring to the IEP Meeting, "other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child..." (34 CFR Section 300.321) This may include private related service personnel, medical professionals, tutors, etc. The determination of the individuals "knowledge or special expertise" must be made by the party who invites the individual to the meeting.
The content of an IEP is to be reached by meaningful dialogue among all IEP Team members. Members of the IEP Team include the following individuals: parent(s); regular education teacher(if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment); special education teacher, a representative of the school district who is qualified to provide and/or supervise provision of special education, is knowledgeable about general education, and is knowledgeable about the availability of district resources; an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results; other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child; and the student, when appropriate.
Sometimes an IEP Team needs to change the IEP after the annual IEP meeting. The parent(s) and the school district may agree to make the changes without holding another comprehensive IEP Team Meeting. Under these circumstances, the parties may draft a written document to amend or modify the student's current IEP. After doing so, the district must inform all IEP Team members of the changes.
The Office of Student Support and Engagement (OSSE) works with schools and networks to establish systems of support to keep all students on-track and engaged in school.  This includes attendance improvement and truancy reduction efforts, the reengagement of out-of-school youth or significantly off-track youth via the Student Outreach and Reengagement (SOAR) Centers, supports to Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS), enrichment activities through city-wide academic competitions and out-of-school time programming, and Chicago's Community Schools Initiative.
Contact - Will Hobart 773-553-4773
Parents are entitled to an opportunity to inspect and review all education records with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child, as well as the provision of free appropriate public education to the child.
An "independent evaluation" is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the school district responsible for the education of the child in question. The parent(s) of a child with a disability have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation of the child at their own expense and if presented to the IEP team, the IEP team must consider the results of this evaluation. The parent(s) also have a right to request this evaluation at public expense "if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the school district." (34 CFR Section 300.502) In Illinois, the parent must submit a written request to the Superintendent (CEO) of the school district. If the parent does request an independent evaluation at public expense, the district must either file a due process complaint to show it is inappropriate, or ensure that the evaluation is provided.

Family Involvement

Research strongly supports school-parent partnerships as effective in improving school climate and student performance. The influence of parent involvement is profound and provides comprehensive benefits for students, families, and schools when parents and family members become active participants in their children's education and lives.

Published in A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement the most accurate predictor of a student's achievement in school is the extent to which that student's family is able to:

  1. Create a home environment that encourages learning;
  2. Communicate high, yet reasonable, expectations for their children's achievement and future careers; and
  3. Become involved in their children's education.

National Network of Partnership School (NNPS) - Dr. Joyce Epstein, Director of the NNPS and the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships has conducted research and worked with elementary, middle, and high schools, districts, and state departments of education for many years to help educators build more effective programs of school, family, and community partnerships.

Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) - A project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, HFRP has a wealth of research and application for partnership development.

Governor's Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership - Is a nationally recognized leader in developing parent leaders in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Emerging Issues in School, Family, and Community Connections - The issues highlighted in this synthesis represent critical areas of work in family and community connections with schools where clarification, agreement, and further development are needed, as well as promising new directions that are emerging.

A New Wave of Evidence, The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement - This review of the research examines the growing evidence that family and community connections with schools make a difference in student success.

Diversity: School, Family, and Community Connections - This synthesis focuses specifically on three categories: race or ethnicity, culture (including language), and socioeconomic status.

The SEDL National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools, Strategy Briefs

Webinar Series on Family, School and Community Engagement in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, United Way, National PTA, SEDL and Harvard Family Research Project. There are 9 webinars in all and can be viewed on Adobeconnect. Printable materials are also available.

Data on Data: A Resource Guide to Engaging Families with Student Data - Published by HFRP serves as a Resource Guide for Engaging Families with Student Data.

Educating our Children Together, A Sourcebook for Effective Family-School-Community Partnerships.

Principal's Research Review, Supporting the Principal's Data-based Decisions. National Association of Secondary School Principals, Vol. 2, Issue 6, November 2007.

US Department of Education, Parent Involvement - Provides information designed to assist local educational agencies, schools and parents in meeting the requirements of parental involvement provisions required under Title I, Part A.

Illinois State Board of Education, Parent Involvement - The State Board resource for parent involvement requirements.

Illinois 5Essentials - 5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide. One of essential is family involvement.





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Contact Information

Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services
Procedural Safeguards and Parental Supports

42 West Madison
Chicago, Illinois 60602
773-553-1800 - Phone
773-553-1906 - Fax

Page Last Modified on Monday, October 17, 2016