Diverse Learners

Special Education Supports and Services

Know Your Rights

Advocating for Your Child

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates 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.

Procedural Safeguards

If your child has an IEP, the Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Parents/Guardians of Students with Disabilities is a document you are to be provided by your IEP team 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.

Filing a Formal Complaint

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:
    ISBE, Special Education Division
    100 N. First Street
    Springfield, IL, 62777-0001
    Visit the ISBE website for more information about the complaint investigation process.

Section 504 Enforcement

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 1-800-421-3481 or visit the ISBE website for more information about filing a complaint under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Have Questions?

Complete and submit this form to request assistance and support for your child regarding special education.

Join the Diverse Learner mailing list to stay informed.

For questions around special education services, please contact the School Assignments | ODLSS District Representative assigned to support the specific school.

Contact Information

Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 773-553-1800
Fax: 773-553-1801
Email: odlss@cps.edu

School Assignment Services
Phone: 773-553-1847

Student Transportation
Phone: 773-553-2860

Nursing Information
Phone: 773-553-4589

Page Last Modified on Thursday, October 10, 2019