Complaint Process & Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Requests
New York State Education Law § 2855(4) which is part of the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (as amended, the “Act”), provides a parent, as well as any other individual or entity (such as a contractor or school district) who believes that a charter school has violated a term of its charter or any applicable law related to the management or operation of the charter school, with an opportunity to complain formally to the charter school education corporation’s board of trustees and seek relief. The charter school education corporation is the legal entity that operates the school and may operate more than one school.
A copy of the school’s complaint policy must be distributed to the parents and/or guardians of students and made readily available to all others requesting a copy. If you are unable to locate a copy, please request the complaint policy from the school’s main office. The school’s complaint policy should tell you the person or entity that will receive your written complaint.
Many types of complaints do not involve violations of law or the charter; rather, they are informal complaints. Complaints regarding an assigned teacher or class, issues with grades, promotion, retention and suspensions are considered Informal complaints.
Informal complaints are handled at the school level. It is recommended that your informal complaint be in writing and sent to the teacher, principal, and any other school leaders. Please review and follow the school’s Complaint Policy to address any informal complaints.
A formal complaint is an alleged violation of the law and/or charter. For example:
- Improper discipline of a special education student
- Allegation of child abuse in an educational setting
- Billing the wrong district for a student
If you believe you have a formal complaint you must address your formal complaint first to the school’s board of trustees. Once you have received a written response from the school’s board of trustees, you may start an appeal to the SUNY Charter Schools Institute. Please review the formal complaint process steps below.
Step 1 – School Level. A formal complaint involves an alleged violation of law and/or charter. Please review and follow the school’s Complaint Policy which will instruct you how to file a complaint, in writing, directly to the charter school education corporation board or a person or entity the education corporation board has designated to handle complaints.
Step 2 – Appeal to SUNY. If the school board of trustees does not satisfactorily address the issue, you may appeal the decision, in writing, to the Institute. You must send a written copy of the school board’s decision along with your complaint. Please complete the SUNY Formal Complaint Form and email it along with the school board’s decision to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. Postal Service to the SUNY Charter Schools Institute at: H. Carl McCall SUNY Building, 353 Broadway, Albany, NY 12246.
If you have questions about the complaint appeals process, you may leave a message at (518) 445-4250 and an Institute staff member will return your call.
Step 3 – Appeal to Board of Regents. If the Institute as the authorizer of the school does not satisfactorily resolve a formal complaint, you can appeal the Institute’s written determination to the New York State Board of Regents through the New York State Education Department ((518) 474-3852). Please or by submit written appeals by mail to the address listed below.
New York State Education Department
Charter Schools Office
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234