On October 31, 2005, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Young Leaders Academy. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district:
- determined whether a child is a child with a disability within the required timeline following a parent's request for an evaluation during the summer of 2004;
- followed required procedures related to removing a child with a disability for more than ten days in May 2005 when it had knowledge before the expulsion that the student was deemed to be a child with a disability;
- provided the child's parents an individualized education program (IEP) and placement notice after a June 16, 2005, IEP team meeting; and
- transferred all pupil records within five working days after receiving notice of a student's enrollment in another district.
This complaint relates to a charter school which is not operated by the Milwaukee Public Schools. During the summer of 2004, the school support services director for the charter school talked to the child's parent about the student's grade placement for the coming school year. The school support services director also explained the special education referral process to the parent and gave the parent special education forms. The parent agreed to have her child tested by a school psychologist before the start of the 2004-2005 school year. On July 28, 2004, the school psychologist tested the child. In February 2005 the school support services director told the parent that it might be in the child's best interest to have an IEP. The parent informed the director that the parent believed her child already had an IEP. The school support services director agreed to start the special education evaluation process. Although the parent apparently believed the psychological testing in July 2004 was part of a special education evaluation of her child, it was not a special education evaluation.
The child's records received by the Department of Public Instruction do not include a special education referral form. On February 18, 2005, the district sent the parent an invitation to a March 4, 2005, IEP team meeting to determine if the student is a child with a disability, develop an IEP and determine placement. On May 20, 2005, the parent was sent an invitation to a May 27 IEP team meeting. On May 24, 2005, the child was suspended from school. The May 27 IEP team meeting was rescheduled for June 16. On June 16 the child's parent signed a parent consent form for permission to administer tests and other evaluation materials which already had been conducted as part of the student's initial evaluation. On June 16 an IEP team determined that the child is a child with a disability, developed an IEP, and determined placement. The student's parent attended the IEP team meeting and signed consent for placement of her child. On June 20, 2005, a copy of the child's IEP and the signed consent for placement were sent to the child's parent. However, the child's parent did not receive these documents. On November 4, 2005, a second a copy of the child's IEP and the signed consent for placement were sent to the child's parent.
When a local education agency (LEA) receives a referral for a child, it must appoint an IEP team to evaluate the child. The IEP team must complete its evaluation, develop an IEP for the child, and notify the parent of the child's placement within 90 days of receipt of the referral, unless the parent agrees to an extension or the department grants one. The department is unable to determine a date of referral without a written referral document. However, an IEP team meeting notice was sent on February 18, 2005. On June 16, 129 days or more after receipt of referral, the IEP team completed its evaluation, developed an IEP for the child, and notified the parent of the child's placement. The LEA did not request that the parent agree to an extension of the 90 day time limit. The LEA did not determine whether the child is a child with a disability within the required timeline. On June 20 and November 4, 2005 the district mailed the child's parents copies of the child's June 16 IEP and placement notice.
Between May 24 and June 17, 2005, the student was suspended from school on eighteen days. The child's school removals exceeded ten cumulative days on June 9. After the child was referred for an evaluation, the district was deemed to have knowledge that the child is a child with a disability. The district was required to follow procedures that apply to children with disabilities prior to removing the child for more than ten cumulative days in the school year. There is no evidence that the district followed these procedures.
On September 1, 2005, the student attended school in a different LEA (the receiving LEA). On October 26 and November 2 requests for the student's records were faxed to the student's former school (sending LEA). In addition, the receiving LEA states staff contacted the sending LEA by telephone. In this case, there is a discrepancy between the sending LEA and receiving LEA regarding the date the first written request was received by the sending district. On November 4, 2005, the student's current school received the student's records. The records were received seven working days after the original October 26 request. When an LEA receives a request for student records, the LEA must send the records within five working days of receipt of the written request.
Because the child is attending a different LEA and the student's records have been received by the child's current LEA and the child's parent, child specific corrective action is not required. However, Young Leaders Academy is required to review and revise, if necessary, their policies and procedures related to: completing special education evaluations within required timelines; providing a child's parents with a copy of the child's IEP and placement notice after an IEP team meeting; removing a child with a disability for more than ten days when it has knowledge before the removal that the student is, or is deemed to be, a child with a disability; and transferring all pupil records within five working days after receiving notice of a student's enrollment in another LEA. By February 1, 2006, the LEA will provide to the department a copy of the revised policies and procedures.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy