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IDEA Complaint Decision 11-024

On June 10, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, in fall 2010:

  • properly notified a parent and provided an opportunity to participate in Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meetings;
  • provided copies of the child’s IEP to the parent in a timely manner; and
  • followed required procedures when it changed the child’s IEP without holding an IEP team meeting.

On June 4, 2010, an annual IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the child’s IEP and determine placement for the following school year. The child’s parent attended the meeting. The IEP team determined the student would receive special education services six hours a day in a special education classroom and receive supported inclusion for math, sixty minutes a week in a regular education classroom. The June 4, 2010, notice of placement indicates these services would be received at the child’s current school from June 4 through June 14, 2010, with placement the following school year to be determined.

During the summer of 2010, the child’s parent spoke to a MPS family services supervisor about her child’s special education placement for the 2010-11 school year. On September 24, 2010, the child’s parent was sent a notice of placement indicating the student would attend the same school the student had been attending during the 2010-11 school year. However, the student placement was changed because the child was removed from the regular education classroom and placed full time in a special education classroom. An IEP team meeting was not held to determine the student’s change in placement.

On October 5, 2010, the child’s special education teacher completed a “Notice of Change to IEP without an IEP Team Meeting” form and revised the child’s IEP. The IEP was revised to reflect the change of placement to the special education classroom, and the child’s instruction in the areas of expressive and receptive language was reduced to thirty minutes two times a week in a special education classroom to begin October 5, 2010. The teacher stated that the changes to the child’s IEP were discussed with the parent and agreed to on August 31, 2010.

On October 19, 2010, the child’s speech and language pathologist completed a “Notice of Change to IEP without an IEP Team Meeting” form and revised the child’s IEP. The changes made were the same as documented on the October 5th form. Special education staff practice in the school is to place a copy of the “Notice of Change to IEP without an IEP Team Meeting” form and revised IEP in the child’s back pack for the parent. There is no indication that this was done for this student. The parent did not receive the October 5 or October 19 documents until the spring of 2011 when she requested copies of all her child’s IEPs for the 2010-2011 school year. During IEP team meetings held May 26 and June 6, 2011, the child’s parent expressed concerns regarding the fall 2010 placement changes and requested that changes to her child’s IEP are only made with face to face meetings.

In Wisconsin, an IEP team determines the special education placement for a child with a disability. No IEP team meetings were conducted in the fall of 2010 to determine the child’s special education placement, and the student’s placement was changed without conducting an IEP team meeting or providing an opportunity for the parent to participate.

In making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP team meeting for a school year, the parent of a child with a disability and the local educational agency (LEA) may agree not to convene an IEP team meeting for the purposes of making those changes and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP. When making changes to a child’s IEP without an IEP team meeting, the LEA must ensure the child’s IEP team is informed of those changes. The LEA must also provide the child’s parent a copy of the child’s revised IEP. IEP team members were not timely informed of IEP changes, and the parent was not timely provided with copies of the revised IEP. The LEA did not provide copies of the child’s revised IEP to the parent in a timely manner and did not follow required procedures when it changed the child’s IEP without holding an IEP team meeting.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department a corrective action plan to ensure all district special education staff who schedule IEP team meetings and district central office family services staff understand the requirements regarding changing a student’s placement, affording the parent an opportunity to participate in IEP team meetings, and following required procedures when a child’s IEP is changed without an IEP team meeting. Child specific corrective action is not required because IEP team meetings for the child were held on May 26 and June 6, 2011, which the parent attended.

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/SJP 7/28/2011
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy