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IDEA Complaint Decision 04-033

On July 19, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Tri-County Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district ensured that a parent was present or afforded the opportunity to participate in, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting conducted on November 18, 2003, and whether the October 22, 2002 IEP was reviewed at least annually by the IEP team.

The student is under the custody and guardianship of the State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. The student transferred into the Tri-County Area School District in March, 2003. Upon transfer, the district adopted the previous district's IEP, which had an ending date of October 15, 2003. After the school year ended, the state placed the student in a foster home outside of the school district, and in July 2003 he was placed by the state in a residential care center. In May 2004, the student left the center and attended school in a different district.

When a state agency anticipates placing a child in a residential care center (RCC), state statute requires the state to notify the responsible local education agency because this agency has responsibility for ensuring the child receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The responsible local education agency generally is the agency that was responsible for providing FAPE to the child before placement in an RCC. The state did not notify either the district the child attended at the end of the 2002-2003 school year, or the district where the child lived in immediately prior to the RCC placement. Because notice was not provided, the districts did not have knowledge of the placement and did not have the opportunity to determine the responsible FAPE agency. Due to this lack of notice, the IEP dated October 22, 2002, was not reviewed prior to its ending date of October 15, 2003, and a parent, as defined by s.115.76, Wis. Stats., was not afforded the opportunity to attend the meeting. The department has contacted and will work with the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services to ensure that notice is provided as required.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed 9/14/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy