Know Your Rights

Congress has maintained and added to IDEA’s system of procedural safeguards designed to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents. States develop their own policies and procedures based on what IDEA requires. States are allowed to go beyond what IDEA requires–and frequently do, because the law leaves a great many things to State and local discretion. However, States are not permitted to have policies or procedures that are not consistent with IDEA’s provisions.

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Procedural Safeguards for IDEA/Part C Early Intervention system

As lead agency for South Carolina’s IDEA/Part C Early Intervention System, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) will establish and enforce these procedural safeguards, designed to protect the rights of parents and their infant or toddler with a disability, as well as give families and early interventionists procedural safeguards.

• Procedural safeguards in the areas of confidentiality, parental consent and notice, surrogate parents, native Language / preferred Mode of Communication and dispute resolution consistent with IDEA/Part C and FERPA; and Effective implementation of the safeguards by each public agency in the State (including the lead agency), Intake Coordinators, Service Coordinators, and Early Intervention Service (EIS) providers.

• All Intake Coordinators and Service Coordinators, upon request, will make available to parents an initial copy of the child’s early intervention record at no cost to the parents.

• In the event of due process proceedings, unless the parent and lead agency agree otherwise, the child will continue to receive the appropriate early intervention services and in the setting identified in the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and for which the parent has given consent.

• The IDEA/Part C Family Guide and state policies and procedures define the process by which infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families will be assured of their rights.

Rights and Responsibilities as a Parent or Guardian under Part B

The federal regulations for IDEA 2004 include a section (Subpart E) called Procedural Safeguards. These safeguards are designed to protect the rights of parents and their child with a disability and, at the same time, give families and schools several ways to resolve their disputes.

Learn more about the most notable procedural safeguards.

Para Español.

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In brief, your rights under IDEA-Part B are:

Procedural Safeguards

These are not the only procedural safeguards under IDEA, but they are the most relevant to the majority of parents.

Prior Written Notice
Your school district must give you written notice (provide you certain information in writing), within a reasonable amount of time before it: 1. Proposes to initiate or to change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child; or 2. Refuses to initiate or to change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of your child, or the provision of FAPE to your child

Independent Educational Evaluations
As described below, you have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of your child if you disagree with the evaluation of your child that was obtained by your school district. If you request an independent educational evaluation, the school district must provide you with information about where you may obtain an independent educational evaluation and about the school district’s criteria that apply to independent educational evaluations.

Parental Consent
Your school district must obtain your informed consent before providing special education and related services to your child for the first time. The school district must make reasonable efforts to obtain your informed consent before providing special education and related services to your child for the first time.

State Complaint Procedures
The South Carolina Department of Education has adopted procedures for: 1. Resolving any complaint, including a complaint filed by an organization or individual from another State; 2. The filing of a complaint; 3. Disseminating the complaint procedures to parents and other interested individuals, including parent training and information centers, protection and advocacy agencies, independent living centers, and other appropriate entities.

Electronic Mail
If your school district offers parents the choice of receiving documents by e-mail, you may choose to receive the following by e-mail: 1. Prior written notice; 2. Procedural safeguards notice; and 3. Notices related to a due process complaint.

Native Language
The notice must be: 1. Written in language understandable to the general public; and 2. Provided in your native language or other mode of communication you use, unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.

Confidentiality of Information
The information stored and used by the LEA (Local Education Agency) about your child will be kept confidential and made available to you on request. This information is stored and released in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

Opportunity for a Hearing
The participating agency must, on request, provide you an opportunity for a hearing to challenge information in education records regarding your child to ensure that it is not inaccurate

What If I Disagree?

It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with the IEP team outlining your concerns and why you disagree.  

It is usually more productive and efficient to calmly speak with the IEP team before exploring other formal options.  If after this conversation you are still uncomfortable, call our Family Information Center and speak with our Education Partners.

Family Connection is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as South Carolina’s Parent Training and Information Center. Knowledgeable staff are available to discuss your questions and concerns around your child’s education.

Please call us at 1-800-578-8750
to make a referral or for general inquiries, assistance or resources.

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Education Partners are available to families of children with disabilities, ages birth to 26, throughout South Carolina, either in person or using technology. They provide:

• Intensive one-on-one assistance to increase parent and family understanding of the education process.

• Someone to attend IEP/504 meetings to provide support.

• Help to explore options for resolving disputes with the least invasive option

Next steps

The South Carolina Department of Education provides the following dispute resolution options if agreement cannot be reached by using any of the above informal supports.
Contact the State Ombudsperson

The SCDE Office of Special Education Services (OSES) employs an Ombudsperson (with a toll-free line 1-866-628-0910) that parents can call to ask questions regarding the laws and regulations pertaining to a specific concern. The Ombudsperson also assists in resolving informal complaints by acting as an intermediary between parents and LEA or SOP Administrators.

Contact the Ombudsperson

Facilitated Individualized Education Programs (FIEP)

Parents, or a school may request a facilitated IEP team meeting. An IEP team Facilitator acts as a neutral party in an IEP team meeting. This voluntary and informal process is designed to strengthen positive communication among team members, aid in building consensus, resolve conflicts and produce a working environment conducive to developing an appropriate IEP. The OSES covers all costs associated with this dispute resolution option offering it as a free resource to parents and public agencies. The OSES Ombudsperson serves as the FIEP Team Meeting Program Coordinator.

Learn more


Parents or a school may request Mediation, which is a voluntary and informal process where the parents and the school meet with an impartial mediator to talk openly about the areas of disagreement and to try to reach a resolution.

Learn More

State Complaints

In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents and other parties may submit a written complaint to the special education complaint investigator located in the SCDE’s Office of General Counsel (OGC). After the complaint is investigated, a findings letter is issued and, if there are any findings of noncompliance, the LEA involved is required to complete corrective activities as soon as possible but in no case later than one year from the findings.

Learn More

Due Process

Parents and/or a school may request a due process hearing, where the parent and the school present their respective cases to an impartial hearing officer for a written decision. The hearings are conducted as required by the IDEA and federal regulations. If the parent or school does not agree with the hearing officer’s decision, they can appeal to the SCDE, which will conduct an impartial review of the hearing and the hearing officer’s decision. If a party does not agree with the SCDE’s decision on the appeal, they can go to court. If a due process hearing is requested, the OGC (Office of General Council) ensures that a resolution session takes place in accordance with federal law.

Learn More

There is a lot to know about each of these options of resolving disagreement with the school. The premier source of this information is CADRE, the National Center on Dispute Resolution. Visit CADRE