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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-011

On March 21, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Almond-Bancroft School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2011-12 school year, properly conducted a special education evaluation.

School districts are required under state and federal special education law to locate, identify, and evaluate all resident students with disabilities who have not graduated from high school. Each district must establish procedures for accepting and processing referrals. All referrals must be in writing and the district must accept and process all referrals submitted to the district. A parent may submit a special education referral to the school district. Upon receipt of a referral, the district must appoint an individualized education program (IEP) team, and the IEP team must conduct a review of existing data to determine what additional data, if any, are needed to complete the evaluation. The student’s parent must be afforded an opportunity to participate in this review. In addition, this review must include not less than one regular education teacher of the child, one special education teacher who has recent training or experience related to the child’s known or suspected area of special education needs, and a local educational agency (LEA) representative. Within 15 business days of receiving the referral, the district must send to the student’s parent a request for consent for additional testing or notice that no additional testing is necessary. An IEP team meeting must be conducted to determine eligibility within 60 days after receiving parental consent for evaluation or notifying parents that no additional assessments are needed.

On January 6, 2012, the parent initiated a special education referral stating concerns about the student’s desire to attend school, academic achievement level, and a failure of the school district to consider outside evaluations and parental concerns when the student was found not eligible for special education in the past. The areas of suspected disabilities considered in the evaluation were other health impairment (OHI) and speech and language impairment (SL). A review of existing evaluation data was conducted and it included the parent as well as the required district staff members. On January 24, 2012, within 15 business days of receiving the referral, the Notice of Receipt of Referral and Notice That No Additional Assessments are Needed were sent to the parent. The IEP team conducted a file review, considered parent and teacher observations, and previous district and outside evaluations to determine the student’s eligibility.

On March 1, 2012, within the 60 day time limit, an IEP team meeting to determine eligibility for special education was held. The IEP team reviewed information, including a review of past assessments, attendance records, disciplinary records, teacher reports, an outside medical evaluation, and the concerns of the parents. The IEP team determined the student did not meet eligibility criteria in either area. This determination was properly documented through completion of the eligibility checklists for each area of impairment. The district properly conducted a special education evaluation.

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

//signed CST 5/17/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support