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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-002

On January 13, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Greenfield School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2011-12 school year, properly responded to a request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting and a request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

In a letter to the district dated December 21, 2011, the complainant requested an IEP team meeting and an IEE to address concerns about the student’s needs and special education and related services. On December 28, the district responded in writing that it would not honor the requests because the parent did not have legal custody of the student, as per a court order, and as such did not have the authority to make educational decisions. The district noted the student’s IEP would remain in place until the parent with legal custody requested a change or legal custody was modified by court order. As of the date of this decision, there has been no change in legal custody.

A biological parent is presumed to be the parent for the purpose of special education decision-making, unless the parent does not have legal authority to make educational decisions for the child. The department verified the accuracy of the court order in effect at the time of the request. In this situation, the district’s response was appropriate because the complainant, by court order, did not have the legal authority to make educational decisions for the student and the student’s other biological parent had been temporarily granted sole legal custody.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. You may contact Paula Volpiansky, Special Education Team, at (608) 267-3725 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 3/9/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy