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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-007

On February 3, 2010 (form dated February 1, 2010), the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Albany School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, in February 2009, informed the parents before submitting a special education referral, dated the receipt of the special education referral, and properly provided the parents a copy of the procedural safeguards notice.

On February 9, 2009, the student’s teacher met with the parents and discussed the student’s academic difficulties and the need for further testing. The teacher did not specifically mention a special education referral. On February 12, the parents met with the teacher and the school psychologist. At this meeting, staff discussed how the result of the assessments would be used in determining whether the student was eligible for special education. The district copy of the referral form is hand dated and indicates the referral was made on February 9, 2009. The parents received a copy of the referral form on February 19, 2009, and this copy is not dated. On February 19, 2009, the parents informed the district they would not provide consent for the special education evaluation. District staff do not remember if the parents were provided with a copy of the procedural safeguards notice when the initial referral was made.

District staff provided regular education interventions through the school year. This included additional reading instruction, fifteen minutes each day of individualized support, and the opportunity for participation in the homework club. District staff also met with the parents several times throughout the year to discuss the student’s progress and the effectiveness of the interventions.

Before submitting a written referral to a local educational agency, a person required to make a referral must inform the child's parent that he or she is going to submit the referral. The referral form is dated February 9, 2009, and although testing was discussed during the February 9 meeting, district staff did not clearly convey to the parents that they intended to make a special education referral. This information was not conveyed until the February 12 meeting.

The district is required to document and date the receipt of each referral. When the referral form was submitted to the district, district staff did comply with requirement by documenting the date it was received even though it was not recorded on the parents’ copy. A copy of the procedural safeguards notice must be given to the parents of a student with a disability when an initial referral is made. District staff members do not remember providing a copy to the parents, and there is no other evidence indicating one was provided when the initial referral was made. The parents, however, stated that they did, at a later date, receive a copy of the procedural safeguards notice.

Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department. The proposed corrective action plan must ensure parents are clearly informed before a special education referral is submitted, and parents are provided with the procedural safeguards notice upon an initial referral.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 3/9/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy