When it comes to defending the civil rights of children, youth, and staff of any school district, do you know that there’s a California state mandated process called the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) that gives you the right to file a complaint with your school or district or ultimately the California State Department of Education to resolve injustices occurring in your school or district?
The following is a brief summary of the UCP and the process for filing a complaint. This article does not address every aspect of the UCP process. You will need to investigate the particular procedures to follow for your school or district. However, if the process seems complicated, there are legal services that can assist you in filing a UCP complaint.
What the UCP Covers
The UCP complaint is a written and signed statement alleging a violation of select federal and state laws.
The UCP addresses forms of discrimination including, but not limited to, the following:
- Unlawful discrimination based on race, gender, or mental or physical disability
- Sexual harassment
- Health and safety complaints
- Bullying and intimidation of a student or students
- Disciplining of students
- Homework policies and practices
- Dress codes and uniforms
- The selection of textbooks and materials
- The lack of adequate textbooks and school materials
The UCP has been used to also address complaints for state and/or federal laws in the areas such as adult education, bilingual education, child care and development, course periods without education content, eduction for students in foster care and homeless children, migrant education, and lack of English Language Learner programs.
When and How to File a Complaint
A complaint can be files on your own, but you can join forces with other parents whose child or children are impacted by forms of discrimination other violations the UCP covers.
Put your complaints in the form of a letter to your school or district administrator and/or school board representative. Be sure to include the names of school or district administrators.
Every school and district (or what is legally called Local Education Agencies (LEA)) are required to post and make available Uniform Complaint Procedures. You want to first check your school’s or district’s website for a posting of the UCP form and process. At the end of this article, we include links to UCP procedures for a few schools and districts in the Central Valley.
Some districts have the complaint form available that you can review and fill it out. Some districts may not have a form. Here’s a sample form from the California Department of Education. You can also write the complaint as a letter.
Members of the Central Valley Movement Building team and associated legal services can also help you fill out the complaint form.
What Happens Next
- After the form is submitted to the California Department of Education, the department will review the complaint to see if falls within the purview of UCP.
- The LEA (your school or district) must investigate the complaint or issue and provide a written response within 60 calendar days.
- The complaint is agreed upon by the LEA, the agency (school or district) is required to develop corrective plan of action. If the complaint is deemed not valid, the complaint is closed.
- If the complaint is deemed valid and the LEA fails to adequately address issues raised in the complaint, the complaint is referred back to the LEA once more to resolve within 20 calendar days.
- If the LEA doesn’t address and resolve the complaint, the State Superintendent (or his or her designee) may respond to the matter and may require corrective actions if it deems the complaint valid.
Sample Complaint Forms and Postings
- Kern High School District
- Fresno Unified School District
- Tulare City School District
- Stockton Unified School District
- Sacramento Unified School District.
- Vacaville Unified School District
- Weaver Union School District
Now that you’ve had the opportunity to read this article, let us know what questions you have about the Uniform Complaint Procedures. If you have experience using the UCP process, we would love to hear from you about that process went.