On April 6, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Genoa City J2 School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which relate to the 2005-2006 school year, are identified below.
- Whether the district completed a special education evaluation within required time limits.
Determining whether a student is a student with a disability must be completed within 60 calendar days from the district receipt of parental consent. Parental consent for the evaluation was received on April 19, 2006. The final session to determine eligibility was held on June 16, 2007. The district completed a special education evaluation within required time limits.
- Whether the district properly obtained consent from parents before conducting evaluation activities.
The parents allege the district evaluated their daughter without their knowledge or signed consent. A district must obtain consent from the student’s parent prior to an evaluation. The parent signed a permission to evaluate form on April 19, 2006. Due to a clerical error, the date listed on the school psychological report was April 5, 2006; however the actual evaluation occurred on April 25, 2006. The district substantiates the actual date of the evaluation through other written documentation. The department concludes the district properly obtained consent from parents before conducting an evaluation.
- Whether the district administered assessments by trained and knowledgeable personnel.
All licensed teachers in Wisconsin, including special education teachers and school psychologists, are considered highly qualified under both No Child Left Behind and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004. Both the school psychologist and the special education teacher who administered assessments are licensed by DPI. The district properly administered assessments by trained and knowledgeable personnel.
- Whether the district notified parents of individualized education program (IEP) team meetings and scheduled the meetings at a mutually agreeable time.
- Whether the district properly provided additional time to permit meaningful parent participation during an IEP team meeting to determine eligibility.
Following completion of the evaluation, an IEP team meeting was scheduled and held on May 25, 2006 with the parent in attendance. The parent requested additional time at this meeting, and the district attempted to schedule another meeting. The parent cancelled two scheduled meetings on June 5, 2006 and June 14, 2006. The district documented three attempts to reschedule the second meeting. The IEP team meeting was held on June 16, 2006 with the parent in attendance. The mother alleges she requested, but did not receive, additional time to permit meaningful participation at the June 16, 2006 meeting.
The local educational agency (LEA) must provide additional time if the parents of the student or the district staff determines at any meeting during the process of the evaluation, development of the IEP, or placement of the student that additional time is needed to permit meaningful parental participation. The district refused to extend the process any further, since the 60 day timeline for evaluation would expire on June 17, 2006. The department concludes the district notified the parents of the IEP team meetings, scheduled the meetings at a mutually agreeable time and properly provided additional time to permit meaningful parent participation during an IEP team meeting to determine eligibility.
- Whether the district properly afforded the parents an opportunity to participate in meetings to determine eligibility.
The parents allege the district evaluators never discussed parent concerns with them prior to testing. The district contends it held two short interviews with the parent on May 15, 2006 and May 23, 2006. The parent’s concerns at that time were dissatisfaction with the 504 plan and its implementation, the level of communication between school and home, and reading gains made over the year. The IEP, under "Information provided by parents," states "they believe that the student should qualify for learning disability programming, based on what the parents believe has been regression in academic performance during 2005-2006 school year. The parents believe that the student struggles in reading areas and that written expression is a declining area. There is concern that in spite of strong grades, the student is not performing appropriately in some academic areas."
The IEP team meeting serves in part as a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel. Parents are considered equal partners with school personnel in making IEP team decisions. The IEP team must consider the parents’ concerns and information and should work toward consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, the LEA must provide parents with prior written notice of the LEA’s proposals or refusals regarding the student’s educational program. The department concludes the district properly considered the parents’ concerns and afforded the parents an opportunity to participate in meetings to determine eligibility.
- Whether the district applied the state criteria in determining whether the child has a specific learning disability (SLD).
The district used the definition and classification criteria contained in federal and state administrative code to identify whether the student had a SLD. The district completed a checklist which contained the administrative code requirements. The department concludes the district applied appropriate criteria in determining whether the student has a SLD.
- Whether the district properly released pupil records to an outside evaluator.
The parent maintains the district did not properly respond to her request for the district to provide to a non-district professional copies of test protocols used when the district conducted testing of her child. On June 8, 2006, the outside evaluator and the parent faxed the district a request signed by the parent to release the identified information by June 13, 2006, the date scheduled for an IEP team meeting to determine the student’s eligibility for SLD. The meeting actually occurred June 16. The district had maintained test protocols for the student which included the student’s name. The test protocols were copyright-protected. On or about June 27, 2006, the parent again orally requested the actual protocols. On June 29, 2006, the district communicated with the publisher due to the district’s concerns with potential copyright violation in copying the protocols. On July 13, 2006, the district obtained a non-disclosure agreement from the publisher requiring signatures by the district, the parent, and the outside evaluator before it would release the test protocols. The test protocols were faxed to the outside evaluator on July 14, 2006.
A district is required to provide parents, on request, access to their child's education records maintained by the district without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP, but in no case more than 45 days after the request is made. Test protocols, which contain personally identifiable information such as the child's name, are student records. The district is required to provide access to such records. However, because the test protocols are copyright protected, the district was not permitted to provide a copy of the records without the agreement of the publisher holding the copyright. The district contends any delay in processing the request was made while seeking clarification relative to copyright laws from the publisher before sharing the protocol. The district provided the requested materials within 45 days of the request, but not prior to the IEP team meeting. While the district did not provide the test protocols prior to the IEP team meeting, it did act properly to secure the agreement of the publisher for the release. The district provided the information once it met the conditions established by the publisher. No further corrective action is needed.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy