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IDEA Complaint Decision 06-020

On April 12, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision for that complaint. The issue is whether district staff properly responded to a parent’s request in late 2005 for a special education evaluation of her child.

On September 26, 2005, the child’s mother gave her child’s teacher a letter requesting "IEP testing" for her daughter. On October 10 the child’s mother spoke with the school psychologist regarding the evaluation request. As a result of their conversation, the psychologist believed the mother was requesting testing to ensure her daughter was placed at the next grade level, not a special education evaluation. On October 10 the school psychologist wrote a letter to the child’s mother confirming this understanding and stating that a special education evaluation referral would not be completed unless the parent called to inform the psychologist that she had misinterpreted the conversation or that the mother had changed her mind and wanted her daughter evaluated for special education. The child’s mother does not remember receiving this letter and continues to believe she was requesting a special education evaluation. While the school psychologist acted in good faith in attempting to confirm the parent’s wishes, the parent’s request for "IEP testing" was explicit. The district should have initiated an evaluation in response to this request.

On April 18, six days after this complaint was filed, a special education administrator contacted the child’s parent to discuss the parent’s desire to have her daughter evaluated for special education. On April 24 the school psychologist called the child’s mother and on April 27 sent a completed referral form to the mother. On May 4 the evaluation notice and consent to conduct testing was mailed to the parent. On May 4, 11, 12, 15, and 22 the school psychologist contacted the parent regarding the parent’s consent for permission to conduct testing. On May 22 the child’s mother returned the signed consent to complete the evaluation. An individualized education program (IEP) team meeting is scheduled to be held on June 12. The district is directed to send to the department a copy of the IEP team evaluation report by June 22. In addition, the district must share a copy of this decision with all school psychologists and others who serve as building coordinators and send to the department by June 31, 2006, confirmation that this has been completed. If the IEP team determines that the child is a child with a disability and it appears that services should have been provided sooner, the IEP team must consider whether additional services may be required due to the delay in responding to the parent’s September 2005 letter.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 6/1/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy