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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-066

On July 25, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, properly determined placement for a student with a disability.

On November 9, 2007, the mother of a child with a disability signed a district "Late Enrollee Coordinator Conference Form" for her child. Following the district’s late enrollee procedures applied to both regular and special education students, the student was assigned to the school listed on the form. Pursuant to district procedures, the school was the school the student would attend if not disabled. On November 16, the student enrolled at the school. Within seven school days, on November 29, the district held an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting to review and revise the student’s IEP, develop an annual IEP with a transition statement, and determine placement. The student’s mother and the student attended the meeting. The IEP team decided the student’s IEP would continue to be implemented at the student’s current school identified in the IEP. On November 29, 2007, the student’s mother was provided a notice of placement. The district properly determined the student’s placement.

On January 29, 2008, the student was assigned to a different school. An IEP team must determine the special education placement, including the school building, for a child with a disability. The placement decision must be made based on the child's IEP. The local educational agency (LEA) must provide a child's parents or guardian prior written notice whenever the LEA proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the educational placement of a child with a disability. Under limited circumstances, which do not apply here, a district may change a child's building without conducting an IEP team meeting. The district acknowledges it did not properly determine the student’s placement. However, the student is no longer attending a school in the district. The district has offered to convene an IEP team meeting for the student when the student returns to the district to determine the need for additional services. The district's August 12, 2008 proposed corrective action plan to (1) conduct an administrative review of the high school's procedures to ensure compliance with placement procedures, (2) provide staff development, and (3) develop a Special Services Information Management System/Encore report (SSIMS) for schools is accepted as the corrective action plan for this complaint. By November 30, 2008, the district must provide the department documentation that the three corrective action activities have been completed and placement procedures modified to properly determine placement for students with a disability. The documentation provided must include, but is not limited to, a report of the administrative review of the high school, staff development agenda(s) and titles of staff participating, a sample SSIMS/Encore report provided to schools, and the district's modified placement procedures.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 9/17/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy