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Uniform Complaint Procedures

The 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.

Local Control

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 (UCP)

Federal and state laws and regulations specify which programs and activities lie within the UCP scope.

See the sections below for UCP resources that address UCP programs and activities and meet all requirements regarding the UCP. These resources are for agency administrators, parents and guardians to explain the UCP in more detail, for instance the UCP Pamphlet and UCP contact information.. Administrators may use these resources whether or not their school district, county office of education or charter school has a scheduled Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) review.

Uniform Complaint Procedures Pamphlet (DOCX; Posted 22-Sep-2020) | Translations of the Uniform Complaint Procedures Pamphlet
Guidance for students; employees; parents and guardians; district and school advisory committee members; private school officials and other interested parties for filing a UCP complaint in their local educational agency.

California Code of Regulations

Regulations are program requirements formally adopted by state agencies, which are also reviewed and approved by the Office of Administrative Law, and filed with the California Secretary of State.

Title 5 Education, Division 1 California Department of Education (CDE), Chapter 5.1 Uniform Complaint Procedures External link opens in new window or tab.

These regulations reflect the most up-to-date version, which went into effect on July 1, 2020. The UCP Regulations Changes Summary is also available.

Uniform Complaint Procedures Reports

UCP Legislative Reports

 

Complaints

What is a complaint?

A Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) 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.  A signature may be handwritten, typed (including in an email) or electronically generated. Complaints may be filed anonymously. A complaint filed on behalf of an individual student may only be filed by that student or that student's duly authorized representative. If the complainant is unable to put the complaint in writing, due to conditions such as a disability or illiteracy, the local agency shall assist the complainant in the filing of the complaint.

UCP Complaints

A complaint regarding the violation of specific federal and state programs that use categorical funds such as Accommodations for Pregnant and Parenting Pupils; Adult Education; After School Education and Safety; Agricultural Career Technical Education; Career Technical and Technical Education and Career Technical and Technical Training Programs; Child Care and Development Programs; Compensatory Education; Consolidated Categorical Aid Programs; Course Periods without Educational Content; Discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying against any protected group as identified under sections 200 and 220 and Section 11135 of the Government Code, including any actual or perceived characteristic as set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution, as defined in Section 210.3, that is funded directly by, or that receives or benefits from, any state financial assistance; Educational and graduation requirements for pupils in foster care, pupils who are homeless, pupils from military families and pupils formerly in Juvenile Court now enrolled in a school district; Every Student Succeeds Act; Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP); Migrant Education; Physical Education Instructional Minutes; Pupil Fees; Reasonable Accommodations to a Lactating Pupil; Regional Occupational Centers and Programs; School Plans for Student Achievement; School Safety Plans; Schoolsite Councils; State Preschool; State Preschool Health and Safety Issues in LEAs Exempt from Licensing; and any other state or federal educational program the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) or designee deems appropriate.are considered UCP complaints. UCP complaints are filed with the district superintendent or their designee.

Contacts in the California Dept of Education (CDE) for programs and subjects covered under the UCP can be found on the UCP Contacts Web page.

Williams Complaints

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.

If a Williams Complaint requirement is allegedly not being met, a Williams Complaint form may be obtained at a school office or an agency/district office.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Complaints

The CDE's authority to investigate and the applicable complaint procedures are set forth in Section 8503 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the Uniform Complaint Procedures (California Code of Regulations, Title 5 Section 4662 et seq.).

ESEA Section 8503 (a) states:

"(a) PROCEDURES FOR COMPLAINTS.-The Secretary shall develop and implement written procedures for receiving , investigating, and resolving complaints from parents, teachers, or other individuals and organizations concerning violations of section 8501 by a State educational agency, local educational agency, educational service agency, consortium of those agencies, or entity. The individual or organization shall submit the complaint to the State educational agency for a written resolution by the State educational agency within 45 days."

ESEA Complaint Notices

Current Notices

Public Comment Period for California's Tydings Waiver Request To Extend the Availability of FY 2018 Title I, Part A Funds Allocated to Los Angeles Unified School District

The California Department of Education (CDE), on behalf of the State Board of Education, is submitting to the United States Department of Education (ED), a request for a waiver of Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. § 1225(b)), also known as the Tydings Amendment, to facilitate implementation of certain corrective actions imposed on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), by extending to September 30, 2022, the period in which to obligate and expend LAUSD’s allocation of 2018-19, Title I, Part A funds.

A 14-day public comment period is open for interested parties and members of the public to submit comments or questions concerning this Tydings Waiver request. For this purpose, the dedicated email address below has been established. Until September 30, 2021, comments or questions may be submitted to: tydingswaiver@cde.ca.gov

Tydings Waiver Notice

How do I file a complaint?

See Complaints in the CDE FAQs.

Appeals

What is an appeal?

An appeal is a written and signed request by the complainant to the California Department of Education (CDE) seeking review of a local educational agency (LEA) Investigation Report that was issued in a response to a properly-filed Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) complaint. A signature may be handwritten, typed (including in an email) or electronically-generated. If a complainant receives an LEA Investigation Report on a matter within the scope of the UCP and believes it is incorrect as a matter of fact or law, they have 30 calendar days to file a written appeal to the CDE. The appeal packet must contain a copy of the original complaint to the LEA and a copy of the LEA's Investigation Report. The complainant must specify and explain the basis for the appeal, including at least one of the following:

  • (1) The LEA failed to follow its complaint procedures, and/or

  • (2) Relative to the allegations of the complaint, the LEA Investigation Report lacks material findings of fact necessary to reach a conclusion of law, and/or

  • (3) The material findings of fact in the LEA Investigation Report are not supported by substantial evidence, and/or

  • (4) The legal conclusion in the LEA Investigation Report is inconsistent with the law, and/or

  • (5) In a case in which the LEA found noncompliance, the corrective actions fail to provide a proper remedy.

Programs and Subjects Within UCP Scope

Contacts for programs and services 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:

  • Accommodations for Pregnant and Parenting Pupils
  • Adult Education
  • After School Education and Safety
  • Agricultural Career Technical Education
  • Career Technical and Technical Education and Career Technical and Technical Training Programs
  • Child Care and Development Programs
  • Compensatory Education
  • Consolidated Categorical Aid Programs
  • Course Periods without Educational Content
  • Discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying against any protected group as identified under sections 200 and 220 and Section 11135 of the Government Code, including any actual or perceived characteristic as set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution, as defined in Section 210.3, that is funded directly by, or that receives or benefits from, any state financial assistance
  • Educational and graduation requirements for pupils in foster care, pupils who are homeless, pupils from military families and pupils formerly in Juvenile Court now enrolled in a school district
  • Every Student Succeeds Act; Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP)
  • Migrant Education
  • Physical Education Instructional Minutes
  • Pupil Fees; Reasonable Accommodations to a Lactating Pupil; Regional Occupational Centers and Programs
  • School Plans for Student Achievement
  • School Safety Plans; Schoolsite Councils
  • State Preschool
  • State Preschool Health and Safety Issues in LEAs Exempt from Licensing

And any other state or federal educational program the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) or designee deems appropriate.are considered UCP complaints.

Consolidated Categorical Programs and 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/].

Administrators

Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) Monitoring

The California Department of Education (CDE) monitors local educational agencies (LEAs) for compliance with state and federal laws related to the UCP through compliance monitoring.

Federal Programs Monitoring (FPM) UCP Resources for 2021-2022

The UCP covers alleged violations by LEAs (school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools) and local public or private agencies which receive direct or indirect funding from the State to provide any school programs, activities, or related services. The UCP resources below meet all requirements for Title 5 California Code of Regulations (CCR) sections 4600–4694 and are for programs and activities that are subject to the UCP such as Accommodations for Pregnant and Parenting Pupils; Adult Education; After School Education and Safety; Agricultural Career Technical Education; Career Technical and Technical Education and Career Technical and Technical Training Programs; Child Care and Development Programs; Compensatory Education; Consolidated Categorical Aid Programs; Course Periods without Educational Content; Discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying against any protected group as identified under sections 200 and 220 and Section 11135 of the Government Code, including any actual or perceived characteristic as set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution, as defined in Section 210.3, that is funded directly by, or that receives or benefits from, any state financial assistance; Educational and graduation requirements for pupils in foster care, pupils who are homeless, pupils from military families and pupils formerly in Juvenile Court now enrolled in a school district; Every Student Succeeds Act; Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP); Migrant Education; Physical Education Instructional Minutes; Pupil Fees; Reasonable Accommodations to a Lactating Pupil; Regional Occupational Centers and Programs; School Plans for Student Achievement; School Safety Plans; Schoolsite Councils; State Preschool; State Preschool Health and Safety Issues in LEAs Exempt from Licensing; and any other state or federal educational program the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) or designee deems appropriate.are considered UCP complaints.

All LEAs and Charter schools that opted in to the Williams Settlement requirements the Williams Complaint documents are for issues concerning deficiencies related to instructional materials, conditions of facilities that are not maintained in a clean or safe manner or in good repair, and/or teacher vacancy or misassignment.

The 2021-2022 UCP Resources are primarily used for FPM review for school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools that are scheduled for an FPM review; however, any agency may utilize the documents on this page for meeting the state and federal requirements regarding UCP.

FAQs for Parents and Guardians

  1. What is a Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) complaint?

    A UCP complaint is a written and signed statement alleging a violation of select federal or state laws, which may include an allegation of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying. A signature may be handwritten, typed (including in an email) or electronically-generated. Complaints may be filed anonymously. A complaint filed on behalf of an individual student may only be filed by that student or that student's duly authorized representative. If the complainant is unable to put the complaint in writing, due to conditions such as a disability or illiteracy, the local agency shall assist the complainant in the filing of the complaint.

  2. How do I file a complaint?

    File a written complaint by following the steps described in your local educational agency's (LEA's) complaint procedures. Please see the California Department of Education (CDE) FAQ [https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/fq/index.asp#Complaints] to find out how and where to file complaints on different subjects.

  3. What areas are covered by the UCP?

    Select federal and state laws governing educational programs are covered by the UCP. Please see the UCP Pamphlet for additional information. UCP Pamphlet (DOCX; Posted 22-Sep-2020). This version of the UCP pamphlet has up-to-date UCP information for the current 2021-2022 school year.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 [https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/fm/index.asp] for additional information.

  9. 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 about instructional materials with the principal at the school.

  10. 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 about facilities with the principal at the school.

  11. 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 about teacher vacancy or misassignment with the principal at the school.

  12. 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 30 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 Investigation Report. The complainant must specify and explain the basis for the appeal, including at least one of the following:

    • (1) The LEA failed to follow its complaint procedures, and/or

    • (2) Relative to the allegations of the complaint, the LEA Investigation Report lacks material findings of fact necessary to reach a conclusion of law, and/or

    • (3) The material findings of fact in the LEA Investigation Report are not supported by substantial evidence, and/or

    • (4) The legal conclusion in the LEA Investigation Report is inconsistent with the law, and/or

    • (5) In a case in which the LEA found noncompliance, the corrective actions fail to provide a proper remedy.

    Please see Appeals [https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/index.asp?tabsection=1] for more information.

  13. 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.

Questions:   Categorical Programs Complaints Management Office | 916-319-0929
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 28, 2021
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