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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-094

On December 4, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Fort Atkinson School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district responded to the mother’s requests for a copy of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) and in the spring of 2008 for an IEP team meeting.

On March 4, 2008, an IEP team meeting was held for the student. The student’s father was granted sole legal custody of the student by a court order. Legal custody means the right and responsibility to make major decisions concerning the child, including educational decisions.

Because the mother does not have legal authority to make education decisions on behalf of the student, the district was not obligated to provide a copy of the student’s IEP following the March IEP team meeting. In early May, however, the mother requested that the district send her a copy of the March 4, 2008 IEP. Under Wisconsin law, a parent who has not been denied periods of physical placement in a court custody order is authorized to have access to his or her child’s education records. In this case, the child’s mother is authorized to have access to her son’s educational records. Districts must comply with such a pupil record request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP, and in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made. On May 13, 2008, the school district sent the mother a copy of the IEP, which was within the 45 day period. The district properly responded to the mother’s request for a copy of the IEP.

On June 6, 2008, the district phoned the mother in response to a message from her stating continuing concerns about a middle school teacher and the student’s IEP and requesting an IEP team meeting. On June 10, 2008, the district phoned the mother again and left a message stating that the IEP concerns she had raised should be reviewed with the student’s high school teachers in September of 2008. Although the mother has the right to access the student’s educational records, she does not have educational decision-making authority. The district was not required to schedule an IEP meeting in response to her request.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST/SJP 1/30/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy