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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-076

On November 16, 2011, 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 the 2010-2011 school year, properly followed transfer procedures when a student with a disability transferred from another Wisconsin local educational agency (LEA) and properly responded to a parent’s request for homebound instruction.

When a child with a disability who has an individualized education program (IEP) in effect transfers from another LEA, the new LEA must provide a free appropriate public education, which includes the provision of services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous LEA. This must be done in consultation with the parents and until such time as the LEA conducts an evaluation, if determined to be necessary, and develops and implements a new IEP, if appropriate. The LEA may also choose to adopt the IEP from the previous LEA. The LEA must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the child’s records. These requirements are to ensure there is no interruption of special education and related services.

On October 4, 2010, the parent of a child with a disability informed MPS district staff her child with special education needs would be transferring back into the district and reenrolling in her district attendance area school. On October 6 the child with a disability was assigned to a non-attendance area school effective October 7, 2010. Although the district had received the IEP from the previous LEA, it was not reviewed to determine how comparable services could be provided until such time as the district either adopted the IEP, or conducted an evaluation, if necessary, and develop a new IEP. When the assigned school contacted the parent, the parent requested homebound instruction because of the student’s medical needs. Between October 7, 2010, and November 24, 2010, the pupil did not attend school. The district did not schedule an IEP team meeting to consider the parent’s request until November 24, 2010. This was an unreasonable delay. During the November 24 meeting, the IEP team developed an IEP and determined the student would receive homebound services. The November 24 notice of placement states the IEP will be implemented at the assigned high school through the “Home and Hospital Instruction Program.” On November 29, 2010, the child started to receive regular and special education services in her home.

Between October 4 and November 29, 2010, the child did not receive any education services. When the student transferred into the district, the transfer provisions were not followed. The district did not ensure there was no interruption of special education and related services in the attendance area school and the previous IEP was either timely adopted or an evaluation was conducted, if necessary, and a new IEP was developed. The parent’s request for homebound instruction was also not timely considered by an IEP team, and the November 24 notice of placement does not correctly document the student’s placement as homebound instruction.

By February 14, 2011, the district must convene an IEP team to consider whether compensatory services are required for the failure to provide services between October 4 and November 29, 2010. The district must submit a copy of the IEP to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting. The district must, within 30 days from the date of this decision, also submit a corrective action plan to ensure the district properly follows the transfer provision and properly responds to parents’ requests for homebound instruction.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 1/12/11
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy