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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-010

On February 4, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the [Unnamed] School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2008-2009 school year, properly followed transfer procedures when a student with a disability transferred from another state.

The student began attending a school in the district on November 12, 2008. Previously, the student had attended a school in Puerto Rico. The student’s enrollment form did not indicate he was a student who had been identified with a disability, and who had been receiving special education and related services. On December 4, 2008, the district was informed by the parent, through her advocate, that the student had an individualized education program (IEP) when he was attending the Puerto Rican school. The parent provided documentation indicating the student had been identified as having a disability, but did not provide a copy of the IEP. The district requested records from the Puerto Rican school district on January 20, 2009, but the letter was returned marked as insufficient address. Beginning on February 11, 2009, the school district made multiple attempts to obtain the student’s complete records, including a copy of the IEP, and received the records on February 18, 2009. On February 26, 2009, the IEP from Puerto Rico was adopted, and the student began receiving services on March 2, 2009.

The federal regulations define “state” to include the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. When a student with a disability who has an IEP in effect transfers from another state within the same school year, the new school district must provide a free appropriate public education, which includes the provision of services comparable to those described in the student’s IEP from the previous school district. This must be done in consultation with the parents and until such time as the district conducts an evaluation, if determined to be necessary, and develops and implements a new IEP, if appropriate. The district may also choose to adopt the IEP from the previous school district. These requirements are to ensure there is no interruption of special education and related services.

The district did not properly follow the transfer procedures. When the district was informed on December 4, 2008 the student had an IEP in effect, the district should have immediately contacted the Puerto Rican school to obtain a copy, and should have begun providing comparable services until the IEP was either adopted or an evaluation was conducted and/or a new IEP was developed. The district must, within 30 days from the date of this decision, submit a corrective action plan to ensure transfer procedures are properly followed. The district must also conduct an IEP team meeting by April 20, 2009 to consider whether additional services are required because of the delay in providing special education and related services when the student transferred into the district.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 3/26/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy