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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-001

On January 8, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during December 2009, properly scheduled an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and place and properly notified the parent of the IEP team meeting.

On November 6, 2008 a district diagnostic teacher called the child’s parent to determine an agreeable time and date for an IEP team meeting. The teacher left a message for the parent on a phone answering machine. On November 6, the teacher provided the parent an invitation for the IEP team meeting, to be tentatively held on December 10, 2008, at 9:30 a.m., by pinning the invitation to the student’s coat when the student went home. This is a common practice used within the building to communicate with parents. In addition, on November 6 the teacher mailed an invite for the tentatively scheduled IEP team meeting. The district invitation includes a statement that if the meeting arrangements are not agreeable to call the teacher at a given phone number. A call to reschedule the meeting was not received by the district. On December 10 at the beginning of the IEP team meeting, the teacher called the child’s parent to ask if she would be attending the meeting. The parent informed school staff that she would not be able to attend the meeting. The teacher asked the parent if she would like to participate in the meeting with a speakerphone. The parent did not want to participate by speakerphone and did not request the meeting to be rescheduled at that time. The district conducted the IEP team meeting without the parent’s participation.

The district must take steps to ensure that the parents of a child are present at an IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. The district must notify the parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they have an opportunity to attend and schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. If the child’s parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls. The district made three reasonable attempts to notify the parent, and it was early enough so that the parent had the opportunity to either attend the meeting or request the meeting to be rescheduled if the date and/or time were not convenient. Further, the district contacted the parent by telephone on the date of the meeting and offered the opportunity to participate by other means. The district took steps to schedule the child’s IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and place and properly notified the child’s parent of the IEP team meeting.

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

//signed CST/SJP 3/5/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy