Uniform Complaint ProceduresThe responsibilities of the complainant, the local educational agency, and the California Department of Education according to California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 4600-4687.
Many concerns are the responsibility of local educational agencies (LEAs), including the hiring and evaluation of staff, employee relations, selection/provision of textbooks and materials, pupil discipline, provision of core curricula subjects, homework policies and practices, and dress codes and school uniforms. Every county office of education, district, and charter school governing board are required to have established local complaint policies that describe the procedures that must be followed to resolve complaints. Copies of complaint policies and procedures are available at county offices of education, district offices, or charter school offices. Many LEAs post their policies and procedures on their Web sites.
Uniform Complaint Procedures
Some matters lie within the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) scope. Federal and state laws and regulations specify which programs and issues do. Not all complaints are within the scope of the UCP, even if they involve alleged violations of law. The issues that may involve filing a complaint under the UCP can be found in the UCP Brochure below.
Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) Brochure [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/documents/ucpbrochure.doc] (DOC; Posted 1-Apr-2016)
Accessible Alternate Version (AAV) of the UCP Brochure [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/ucpbrochureaav.asp] (Posted 1-Apr-2016)
Available translations of the UCP brochure text (Coming Soon)
Contacts for Programs and Services Covered Under the Uniform Complaint Procedures
What is a complaint?
A complaint is a written and signed statement alleging a violation of federal or state laws or regulations, which may include an allegation of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying. If the complainant is unable to put the complaint in writing, due to conditions such as a disability or illiteracy, the agency shall assist the complainant in the filing of the complaint.
A complaint regarding the violation of specific federal and state programs that use categorical funds such as Adult Education, After School Education and Safety, Agricultural Vocational Education, American Indian Education Centers, American Indian Early Childhood Education, Career Technical Education, Child Care and Development, Consolidated Categorical Aid, Foster Youth Services, Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plans, Migrant Education, Nutrition Services, Regional Occupational Centers, School Facilities, Special Education, Tobacco-Use Prevention Education, and Unlawful Pupil Fees are considered UCP complaints. UCP complaints are filed with the district superintendent or their designee.
Contacts for programs and subjects covered under the UCP can be found on the UCP Contacts Web page [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/ucpcontacts.asp].
A Williams Complaint, another type of UCP complaint, regards instructional materials, emergency or urgent facilities conditions that pose a threat to the health and safety of pupils, and teacher vacancy or misassignment and may be filed anonymously. Williams Complaints are filed with the principal, or their designee, of the school in which the complaint arises. Schools have complaint forms available for these types of complaints, but will not reject a complaint if the form is not used as long as the complaint is submitted in writing.
How do I file a complaint?
What is an appeal?
If a complainant receives an LEA decision on a matter within the scope of the UCP and believes it is incorrect as a matter of fact or law, they have 15 calendar days to file a written appeal to the CDE. In their appeal, they must specify the reason for the appeal and whether the LEA's facts are incorrect and/or the law is misapplied. The appeal packet must contain a copy of the original complaint to the LEA and a copy of the LEA's decision.
Programs and Subjects Within UCP Scope
Contacts for programs and subjects covered under the UCP can be found on the UCP Contacts Web page.
For complaint and appeal processing information relating to the programs listed below, click the following links:
- Adult Education
- After School Education and Safety [http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ba/as/index.asp]
- Agricultural Vocational Education
- American Indian Education Centers and American Indian Early Childhood Education Program Assessments
- Career Technical Education
- Child Care and Development Programs [http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/op/cdprograms.asp]
- Discrimination, Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying - Resolution of Discrimination/Harassment Complaint [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/eo/complaint.asp]
- Foster Youth Services
- Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plans [http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/lc/lcffandtheucp.asp]
- Migrant Education
- Nutrition Services - USDA Civil Rights [http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/cr/]
- Regional Occupational Centers and Programs
- School Facilities - Williams Facilities Complaints and Appeals [http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/sf/williamsappeal.asp]
- Special Education - Complaint Process [http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/qa/cmplntproc.asp]
The special education complaint process with federal and state law resource links.
- Tobacco-Use Prevention Education Program
Consolidated Categorical Programs and Unlawful Pupil Fees
- Consolidated Categorical Programs Appeals [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/ccpappeals.asp]
- Unlawful Pupil Fees Appeals [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/upfappeals.asp]
The CPCM Office utilizes the UCP, as written in California Code of Regulations, Title 5 sections 4600-4687 and California Education Code sections 49010-49013, to process appeals regarding unlawful pupil fees.
For additional information regarding the UCP and consolidated categorical programs and unlawful pupil fees, please use the Appeal Assistance Form [https://www3.cde.ca.gov/ucpemail/].
Uniform Complaint Procedures Monitoring [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/ucpmonitoring.asp]
The CDE monitors local educational agencies (LEAs) for compliance with state and federal laws related to the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) through compliance monitoring [http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/cr/].
Training resources on complaints, appeals, monitoring, and unlawful pupil fees are available for viewing on the UCP Training Web page [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/ucptraining.asp].
FAQs for Parents and Guardians
- What is a UCP complaint?
A UCP complaint is a written and signed statement alleging a violation of select federal and state laws. Please see the UCP Brochure [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/documents/ucpbrochure20150706.doc] for additional information.
- How do I file a complaint?
File a written complaint by following the steps described in your LEA's complaint procedures. Please see the CDE FAQ [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/fq/index.asp#Complaints] to find out how and where to file complaints on different subjects.
- What areas are covered by the UCP?
Select federal and state laws governing educational programs are covered by the UCP. Please see the UCP Brochure [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/documents/ucpbrochure20150706.doc] for additional information.
- How do I file a complaint that does not fall under the UCP?
Consult your LEA's local complaint procedures, as LEAs have discretion for determining how non-UCP complaints are processed.
- Where can I find my LEA's complaint procedures?
LEAs are required to annually provide notice to their students, employees, parents or guardians of their students, the district advisory committee, school advisory committees, appropriate private school officials, and other interested parties of their UCP. Many LEAs also include their complaint procedures on their Web sites or in a handbook they provide to students and their parents and guardians at the start of each new school year. You may also contact your school, district, or county office of education for more information. LEAs are required to make their complaint procedures available to you at no cost.
- How much time does the LEA have to respond to my complaint?
The LEA must conduct and complete an investigation of the complaint and prepare a written decision to a UCP complaint within 60 calendar days of the date of receipt. This time period may be extended by written agreement of the complainant.
- Am I required to give the LEA more time to respond to my complaint?
No. However, we encourage the local resolution of complaints and, at times, an extension is necessary in order for the LEA to do a thorough and complete investigation.
- What fees are LEAs allowed to charge?
A pupil enrolled in a public school is not required to pay any fee, deposit, or other charge not specifically authorized by law. Please view the Fiscal Management Advisory [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/fm/index.asp] for additional information.
- My school does not have enough textbooks, what do I do?
Complaints regarding instructional materials, teacher vacancy, or missasignment and school facilities are handled locally. You may file a Williams complaint [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/index.asp?tabsection=0] about instructional materials with the principal at the school.
- My school has unsafe facilities, what do I do?
Complaints regarding instructional materials, teacher vacancy, or missasignment and school facilities are handled locally. You may file a Williams complaint [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/index.asp?tabsection=0] about facilities with the principal at the school.
- My school has a teacher vacancy issue, what do I do?
Complaints regarding instructional materials, teacher vacancy, or missasignment and school facilities are handled locally. You may file a Williams complaint [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/index.asp?tabsection=0] about teacher vacancy or misassignment with the principal at the school.
- What do I do if I disagree with an LEA's decision regarding a complaint?
If you believe the LEA decision is incorrect as a matter of fact or law, or they failed to address all of your concerns, you may file an appeal within 15 calendar days to the CDE. In the appeal, you must specify the reason for the appeal and whether the LEA's facts are incorrect and/or the law is misapplied. The appeal packet must contain a copy of the original complaint to the LEA and a copy of the LEA's decision. Please see Appeals [http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/index.asp?tabsection=1] for more information.
- What is the CDE's responsibility if it finds an LEA violated the law?
The CDE's responsibility is to ensure LEA compliance with select federal and state laws. If an LEA is found out of compliance, the CDE may require corrective action.