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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-052

On June 29, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Green Bay Area Public School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district properly responded to a parent’s request beginning January 2007 that her child receive special education.

During the 2006-2007 school year, the parent contacted the district and expressed concern that her child needed special education because of academic challenges in math and difficulty staying focused, organized, and completing assignments. In January, the parent believed she requested a special education evaluation during a conversation with the school psychologist. The school psychologist did not understand the request to be for a special education evaluation and believed the parent had requested a non-special education assessment of the student’s math skills. An assessment of the student’s math skills was completed and the results discussed with the parent and building consultation team.

On May 10, the parent sent an email to the district sharing her belief that the student still needed a special education referral. In the district’s email response on May 14, the parent was informed special education referrals were not processed over the summer, the parent’s request would be forwarded to the school psychologist in the building the student would be attending in the fall, and a meeting would be scheduled in the fall with the building consultation team to discuss the student’s status at the time. Under state law, when a parent requests an evaluation for a suspected disability, a district must inform the parent of the right to make a referral and how to make the referral. The district must accept and process all referrals submitted to the district, including referrals made during the summer. The parent was not informed of her right to make a referral for a special education evaluation.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the district reviewed the matter and contacted the parent. District special education leadership demonstrated a clear understanding of state and federal requirements related to special education referral. An assistant special education director met with the parent on July 17. The parent’s rights were reviewed and paperwork needed to initiate a special education evaluation was completed. The district has agreed to expedite the evaluation. If the student is determined to be a child with a disability, the individualized education program (IEP) team must determine whether additional services are required due to the delay in initiating the evaluation process. The district must send to the department a copy of the evaluation determination and IEP, if required, by September 30, 2007.

The district proposes to review the legal requirement related to special education referrals with all district special education staff, including the obligation to accept and process referrals any time of the year, to ensure when a parent requests an evaluation for a suspected disability, district staff will inform the parent of the right to make a referral and how to make the referral. The department accepts this proposed corrective action. By September 30, 2007, the district will submit to the department evidence of completion of this corrective action.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 7/30/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy