Skip Repetitive Navigation Links
California State Auditor Report Number : 2016-109

Uniform Complaint Procedures
The California Department of Education’s Inadequate Oversight Has Led to a Lack of Uniformity and Compliance in the Processing of Complaints and Appeals

January 31, 2017 2016-109

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

As requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the California State Auditor presents this audit report concerning the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP). The UCP was established to provide a uniform process for investigating complaints that allege that schools or school districts have violated laws or regulations related to certain educational programs or issues.

This report concludes that the California Department of Education (Education) has not provided adequate oversight necessary to ensure that it processes complaints and appeals uniformly and that its divisions and local educational agencies (LEAs) comply with UCP requirements. Specifically, Education has designated 14 divisions as contacts for UCP complaints and appeals—eight of which received complaints and appeals during the three fiscal years ending June 30, 2016. The lack of a central office for its intake of UCP complaints and appeals has resulted in delays in forwarding some complaints and appeals to the correct division for handling. Further, Education did not always complete investigations of complaints and reviews of appeals within 60 days. The lack of a uniform time frame for completing investigations of complaints and reviews of appeals in the UCP regulations has resulted in its divisions adopting inconsistent practices for addressing complaints and appeals. Although federal regulations specify time frames for some programs and state regulations and law for some others, we also noted that there are no specific time frames in UCP regulations for other types of appeals. These differences create inequities and may lead to frustration for complainants. We also noted that Education has not always ensured adherence to UCP requirements requiring notifications to complainants for extensions of investigations and notifications about the results of the investigations.

Of the three LEAs we reviewed—Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles Unified), San Diego Unified School District, and San Juan Unified School District (San Juan Unified)—two have not ensured that their processes are efficient for addressing UCP complaints. Los Angeles Unified and San Juan Unified received many complaints that were not covered by the UCP. The time that LEA staff spent processing these non‑UCP complaints is time they could have otherwise dedicated to investigating UCP complaints. Moreover, the three LEAs did not always complete investigations within required time frames and did not always obtain agreements from the complainants to extend investigations as required. Finally, we noted that Education can improve its monitoring of LEAs for compliance with the UCP. Specifically, Education’s monitoring did not identify that San Juan Unified’s investigation reports did not always comply with state regulations. Education also does not monitor the more than 1,100 LEA‑authorized charter schools for compliance with the UCP.

Respectfully submitted,

State Auditor

Back to top