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IDEA Complaint Decision 11-020

On March 25, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the West Bend School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2010-11 school year:

  • Properly responded to a parent’s request for a special education evaluation.
  • Provided the parent with a copy of the procedural safeguards notice.

Referrals for special education evaluations must be in writing and must include the name of the student, as well as the reasons the person making the referral believes the student is a student with a disability. Districts are responsible for informing parents about the district’s referral procedures. A copy of the procedural safeguards notice must be given to the parent upon initial referral.

In early October 2010, the parent and a district staff member discussed the student’s behavior in the classroom. On January 4 and 5, 2011, the parent spoke with a second district staff and asked for a referral for special education. The staff member referred the parent to a third staff member who spoke with the parent, informed her of the district’s referral process, and initiated the referral paperwork. The district sent the parent the procedural safeguards notice with the notice of receipt of referral dated January 12. The district properly responded to a parent’s request for special education and provided the parent with a copy of the procedural safeguards notice.

  • Scheduled an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting at a mutually agreed-upon time.

The district must take steps to ensure the parents of a student 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 they have an opportunity to attend and schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed-upon time and place. If the student’s parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls.

An IEP team meeting was scheduled for March 15, 2011. On March 10, the parent asked to reschedule the IEP meeting to the week of March 21. The district accommodated the parent’s request and held an IEP team meeting on March 22, 2011. This district properly scheduled an IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed-upon time.

  • Properly afforded the parent the opportunity to participate in an IEP team meeting.

The parents of a student with a disability must be afforded an opportunity to participate in meetings with respect to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to their child, and determinations regarding eligibility must be made by the IEP team. District staff cannot “predetermine” whether the child is a child with a disability.

On March 10, a district staff member spoke with one of the student’s health care providers. After the conversation, the health care provider made a note of the phone call in the student’s health care records. The note demonstrates a misunderstanding by the health care provider regarding the process for determining eligibility for special education. Interviews confirm district staff did not determine whether the student was eligible for special education prior to the parent’s participation in the March 22 eligibility determination meeting. The eligibility determination was made through the IEP team process as required. The district properly afforded the parent the opportunity to participate in an IEP team meeting.

  • Properly responded to the parent’s pupil record request.

A district must permit a parent, on request, to inspect and review their child's education records. Education records are any records directly related to a student and maintained by an educational agency or institution.

On March 18, the parent went to the school and requested to see the student’s records. A staff member produced the student’s cumulative file, gave the parent information from the district’s electronic student information system, and was available for questions. The parent complains the file did not contain behavioral records. There is no evidence the district failed to produce pupil records for the student. The district properly responded to the parent’s pupil record request.

  • Properly responded to a parent's request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

Upon receiving a request for an IEE, a school district must inform parents about where to obtain an IEE. The agency must also inform the parents of the district’s IEE criteria. The district must respond to the request for an IEE in a reasonable amount of time and in a manner which does not interfere with the student’s right to a FAPE. The district must either provide the IEE at public expense or request a due process hearing to show its evaluation is appropriate.

On March 22, the parent requested an IEE. The district provided the district’s policy on IEEs and a list of evaluator names and phone numbers by April 1, which is a reasonable amount of time. The district properly responded to a parent’s request for an IEE.

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

//signed CST 5/18/11
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy