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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-092

On December 19, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Salem School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in December 2006, properly applied eligibility criteria for emotional behavioral disability during an evaluation of a child to determine a need for special education services.

The parent alleges the district did not properly determine whether or not her child has an emotional behavioral disability. The student previously received special education but was reevaluated and determined no longer to be a child with a disability on March 27, 2006. On September 26, 2006, the parent referred her child for a special education evaluation. She stated her child was not attending classes on a regular basis and was failing classes because of the child’s emotional status. On December 19, 2006, an IEP team determined the child did not have an emotional behavioral disability. The parent attended the IEP team meeting and disagreed with the decision of non-eligibility for special education services. The student currently is not enrolled in the Salem school district but continues to reside in the district.

A local educational agency must conduct a full and individual initial evaluation to determine if the child is a child with a disability. The child must be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability and the evaluation must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs. The IEP team during its December 2006 special education eligibility determination failed to document proper consideration of the following student-specific data: the student spent significant periods of her school day in the school office or working with an aide on assignments provided by the general education teachers, the student’s day was shortened and the student’s school and class attendance was erratic.

The Salem School District will initiate an evaluation of the student to consider whether the student has an impairment and determine eligibility for special education. If the district determines the student is a child with a disability, the IEP team will consider whether the child needs additional services due to previous eligibility determinations. In addition, Department staff will work with the district to ensure the staff understand when conducting a special education evaluation for emotional behavioral disability, the IEP team will review existing data, use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant student information that applies to the suspected disability and the evaluation report includes adequate documentation to support the eligibility decision.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 2/18/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy