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IDEA Complaint Decision 06-025

On May 15, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Medford Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2005-2006 school year, properly implemented an individualized education program (IEP) for a student upon transfer from another state.

On March 6, 2006, the student was enrolled in the district. The student was transferring from a district outside the state. The parents provided the district IEPs from two out-of-state districts. One IEP was dated May 14, 2004, with a projected review date of May 14, 2005. A second draft IEP dated May 12, 2005, was provided with a cover letter from the sending district indicating the May 14, 2004, IEP would expire on May 14, 2005. The draft IEP was never completed.

According to the receiving district, there was agreement between the district and the parents that the district should perform its own evaluation and formulate a new IEP for the student. The student came to school for evaluations on April 3 and April 5, 2006. Evaluations were completed for cognitive disability, speech and language, hearing impairment, vision impairment, occupational therapy, and physical therapy in April 2006.

An IEP team meeting was held for this student on June 1, 2006. The IEP team determined the student qualified as a student with a disability in the areas of cognitive disabilities, orthopedically impaired, speech and language disabilities, and other health impairment and needed special education services. The IEP team also determined the student did not meet eligibility criteria for a hearing impairment and a visual impairment. The student began receiving special education services on April 20, 2006.

IDEA 2004 requires LEAs to treat in-state and out-of-state transfers the same and provide special education and related services upon enrollment. When a student with a disability transfers districts within the same academic year and enrolls in a new school, IDEA 2004 requires that the district provide the student with special education and related services, comparable to those described in the out-of-state IEP. This must be done in consultation with the parents and until such time as the district conducts an evaluation, if it is determined necessary by the district, develops a new IEP. This is to ensure there is no interruption of special education and related services when a student transfers from one district to another.

Although parents of a student with a disability are afforded the opportunity to participate in the development of the IEP, a public agency must ensure there is no interruption of services provided to students with IEPs when they transfer into the district. While the IEP team should work toward consensus, the public agency has ultimate responsibility to ensure that the student receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

The period between the enrollment of the student on March 6, 2006, and the date the student actually began receiving services on April 20, 2006, represents an interruption of services. Based upon the information submitted by the sending district, the student clearly was a student with disabilities and the district should have provided services immediately. The district did not properly implement an IEP for a student upon transfer from another state.

Within 30 days of the receipt of this decision, the district must reconvene an IEP team meeting to determine if additional services are needed as a result of not providing services upon enrollment during the 2005-2006 school year. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district must also submit proposed corrective action to ensure staff understand that students with IEPs transferring from other states experience no interruption in services.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 6/26/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy