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IDEA Complaint Decision 11-053

On December 15, 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, in spring 2011, scheduled an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and provided a copy of the evaluation report to the parent.

A local education agency (LEA) must take steps to ensure one or both of the parents of a child 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. They must also provide the notice of the purpose of the meeting. If the child’s parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls.

On April 27, 2011, the district mailed an invitation to an IEP team meeting to be held on Monday, May 9th. The parent does not work on Monday or Tuesday. The invitation stated the purpose of the meeting was to determine initial eligibility for special education, develop an initial IEP with transition plan, and determine initial placement. On May 3rd, a district diagnostic teacher left a reminder on the parent’s phone regarding the May 9th IEP team meeting. On May 4th, a second invitation to the May 9th IEP team meeting was mailed to the child’s parent. The district invitation included a statement that if for any reason the parent was unable to attend the meeting they may participate by other means including, but not limited, to rescheduling the meeting if timelines allow, or individual or conference telephone call. On May 6th, a district diagnostic teacher left a message on the parent’s phone about the May 9th meeting date. The parent then informed district staff she could not be at the meeting but the district should go ahead with the meeting. The meeting was conducted on May 9th without the parent’s participation. The team determined the child was not a child with a disability. The LEA scheduled the IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed upon time to ensure the parents of the child were present at the IEP team meeting or afforded the opportunity to participate.

As required by state and federal regulations the IEP team prepared an evaluation report including documentation of the determination of eligibility for special education. After the IEP team meeting, a copy of the evaluation report and the documentation of determination of eligibility were mailed to the parent at no cost to the parent. During the investigation of this complaint district staff volunteered to send the parent a second copy of the May 9, 2011, evaluation report, which was sent on February 7, 2012. The district properly provided a copy of the evaluation report to the parent.

This concludes our review of this complaint which we are closing. You may contact Janice Duff, Special Education Team, at (414) 227-1845 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 2/13/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy