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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-019

On February 28, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Mauston School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2006-2007 school year:

  • Properly ensured that a student was referred to determine whether the child needs special education service;
  • Properly included the parents in the review of existing data to determine the need for testing;
  • Properly provided the parents with notice describing evaluation procedures to be used and received written parental consent prior to administering tests; and
  • Properly included the parent in the determination of whether their child needs special education services.

On November 14, 2006, a parent teacher conference was held to discuss the child’s education progress. The parent raised concerns about the child’s reading. The teacher indicated to the parent she would complete the paperwork for a referral, and the parent agreed. The teacher intended for the referral to be to a student consultation team to consider whether the student needs additional assistance in regular education. The teacher believed the parent understood and agreed to the purpose of the referral. The teacher did not have reason to suspect the child is a child with a disability. However, the parent understood the referral was for special education testing.

The teacher completed the student consultation request form. Testing was conducted by a district reading specialist who is licensed to work with regular education students. The tests the specialist used are those she typically administers to regular education students experiencing reading difficulties to determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation. The testing appears consistent with federal regulations indicating that screening students to determinate appropriate instructional strategies is not considered an evaluation of eligibility for special education services.

On January 23, 2007, the student consultation team met with the parents to review the test results. The student consultation team determined the child was functioning at her expected reading level and was doing well in her class. The test results were consistent with the observations of the child’s teacher in the classroom. The student consultation team also determined additional testing would not be needed and the teacher would continue to implement the same strategies to assist the child with her learning. District staff did not conclude a referral to determine whether the student needs special education services was appropriate. Further, district staff did not explain the process for making a special education referral to the parents because they did not believe that the parent suspected the child may have a disability. Under the circumstances of this complaint, the district followed required procedures.

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

//signed 4/30/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy