Special Education – IEP, Records, and Due Process Deadlines in California

Navigating the complex landscape of California special education laws can be a daunting task for parents and guardians of students with disabilities. Understanding the eligibility criteria, deadlines, and nuances of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) is crucial for advocating effectively for your child’s educational needs.

Under California special education laws, parents and guardians have specific legal rights and protections to ensure their child receives appropriate educational services. These rights are grounded in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and include the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment.

Parents are entitled to receive written notice before any changes are made to their child’s IEP or placement. If you disagree with the school’s assessment, you have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense. Parents can file complaints, request mediation, and seek due process hearings if they believe their child’s rights are being violated.

When disputes arise in the special education process, filing complaints and appeals is a formal recourse available to parents and guardians. In California, parents can file a complaint with the California Department of Education (CDE) if they believe the school district is not complying with federal or state special education laws.

The following chart covers important deadlines for IEPs, student records, and due process hearings in California.

California Special Education Eligibility

Details Age Requirements
Special education eligibility Ages 3-21
Termination of services in California Age 22

High School Graduation and Transition

Details Age Requirements
Notice to parent/guardian of student’s graduation from high school with a diploma “Reasonable prior written notice” must be provided
First IEP for implementation of post-secondary goals and transition must be in effect Age 16
Completed Statement of Transition Services Age 16 or younger

IEP Meetings and Assessment

Details District Deadlines
Implementation of IEP As soon as possible after parent consent
Deadline for when an IEP must occur from receiving a written request by a parent or guardian Within 30 days
Deadline for implementation of IEP after pupil transfers to a new district in the same SELPA Without delay
Deadline for district to develop a proposed assessment plan Within 15 calendar days of referral for assessment
Deadline for initial IEP meeting to take place Within 60 days from when parental consent is received by the district
How often must IEP programs be reviewed? Annually
Review period of an IEP when there is residential placement Every 6 months
Deadline for an IEP to occur after it has been determined that a child needs special placement Within 30 calendar days
Deadline for adoption of prior IEP or implementation of new IEP occur after a transfer within the state, to a new district, or to a new SELPA Within 30 days

IEP Meetings and Assessment

Details Parents or Guardian Deadlines
How long do parents or guardians have to arrive at a decision after receiving proposed assessment? 15 calendar days

Records Requests

Details School and District Deadlines
When must a record request be received from a district or LEA where a student is enrolled? Within 5 working days
When must oral or written records requested by parent or guardian be received? Within 5 working days before a hearing, resolution, or any meeting regarding an IEP

Due Process Hearings

Details School, Districts, and CDE Deadlines
When must a California Department of Education (CDE) investigation of complaint and issue of written decision occur? Within 60 days after the complaint is filed
When must a scheduled pre-hearing mediation occur? Within 5 days of receipt by Superintendent
When must a hearing officer determine the sufficiency of a Due Process Request? Within 5 days of receipt of notice
When must a district hold and render a decision on due process? Within 45 calendar days of the expiration of the 30 days of receipt of due process by Superintendent

Due Process Hearings Deadline — Both Sides

Details Deadline
Right to be informed of documents and witnesses Within 5 days

Due Process Hearings

Details Parents or Guardian Deadlines
When must a due process claim be brought (Statute of Limitations) Within 2 years of the date when the party knew or should have known the facts underlying the basis for the request


Special Education Lawyers in California Serve Children with Special Needs

The special education attorneys at Woodsmall Law Group have been helping families make the most of their educational opportunities for over 17 years. We are committed to serving children and adults with learning disabilities and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. We would be happy to advise you about IEP meetings, student records requests, and due process hearings, or we can attend these meetings and hearings with you.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement or the services they are receiving, please call our firm at (626) 440-0028. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish. Contact our firm to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Los Angeles special education attorneys.