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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-007

On January 17, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Janesville School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, properly responded to a parent request for a special education evaluation.

State law requires school districts to locate, identify and evaluate all resident children with disabilities who have not graduated from high school. A parent may submit a referral for an evaluation for a suspected disability to the school district. When a parent requests an evaluation for a suspected disability, a district must inform the parent of the right to make a referral and about how to make the referral. The district must accept and process all referrals submitted to the district.

On October 9 and 31, 2007, the parent requested a special education evaluation in writing. The district acknowledges it did not follow through on the parent’s requests for an evaluation in October 2007. The district also states the child was previously referred for a special education evaluation in March 2007 and found not eligible for special education services. A district is not required to conduct a reevaluation more than once a year unless the district and parent agree an evaluation is needed. However, because the student was not a student with a disability in October 2007, the parents’ request was an initial referral, not a request for a reevaluation. State special education law does not allow an agency to refuse a referral for an initial evaluation. The district did not properly respond to the parent’s October attempts to refer her child for an initial special education evaluation.

The district must initiate an initial evaluation of the child within seven days of receiving this decision and notify the department of the date of the Notice of Receipt of Referral and Start of Initial Evaluation. Within thirty days of receiving this decision, the district must submit proposed corrective action to the department to ensure that the district properly responds when a parent requests an initial evaluation for a suspected disability.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 3/14/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy