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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-006

On February 10, 2012, 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 issue is whether the district properly responded to a parent's request during the 2011-12 school year for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

An IEE is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not an employee of the student's school district. A parent has the right to an IEE if the parent disagrees with the district's evaluation. 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 that does not interfere with the student's right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The district must either provide the IEE at public expense or request a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate.

On April 28, 2011, the district held an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting, conducted a reevaluation and determined the student continued to be a child with a disability in the area of cognitive disability. The IEP team also determined the student did not meet the criteria for eligibility in the areas of emotional behavioral disability and other health impairment. The student's mother and father attended the IEP team meeting.

On November 21, 2011, the student's parents requested an IEE because they disagreed with the category of eligibility determined at the April 28, 2011, IEP team meeting. On November 30, the student's parents requested both an IEE and another reevaluation. On December 1, LEA staff spoke with the parent on the telephone to clarify the parents' request and determine which evaluation, the IEE or the reevaluation should occur first. On January 13, 2012, the parent called the LEA and asked about the status of the IEE request. LEA staff had several additional conversations with the student’s parents. The LEA staff and the parents agreed to schedule a February 13, 2012, reevaluation IEP team meeting with the understanding the parent’s request for an IEE would be put on hold until after the February 13 IEP team meeting. On February 3, an LEA staff member sent the parents a letter titled "Response to Parental Inquiry for Independent Educational Evaluation." In this letter the LEA states a reevaluation IEP team meeting would be held on February 13 and if the parent disagreed with the outcome of the February 13 reevaluation they would be entitled to an IEE. On February 13, 2012, a reevaluation IEP team meeting was conducted. The IEP team determined the student continued to be a child with a disability in the areas of cognitive disability and other health impairment. The student's mother and father attended the IEP team meeting with a parent advocate.

The LEA responded to the parents' joint IEE and reevaluation request, as agreed to with the parent, by conducting an IEP team reevaluation meeting on February 13, 2012, with the understanding an IEE would be requested if the parents' disagreed with the results of the February 13, reevaluation IEP team meeting.

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 3/27/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy