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IDEA Complaint Decision 13-033

On June 12, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Kenosha Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning in June 2012, properly identified, located, and evaluated a child with a disability.

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 with a regular high school diploma. 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. It is not required that the review of existing data occur through an IEP team meeting. 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.

In June 2012, a child’s guardian verbally inquired about her previously submitted written special education referral and requested that the child be evaluated for special education. However, rather than proceeding with the referral, the district sent a copy of the written referral and a “student intervention plan” used for regular education students to the elementary school the student would be attending for the 2012-13 school year. During the fall of 2012, the district staff continued to provide the student ongoing support, positive intervention, and instruction in behavioral skills as part of the regular education student intervention team process. The child’s guardian continued to verbally inquire about her written special education evaluation request to several staff at the school. On March 18, 2013, after a conversation with the child’s guardian, the school psychologist completed a district special education referral form. After a review of existing data, which included all of the required participants, consent to conduct additional assessments was sent to the child’s guardian on March 27, 2013. On April 9, the district received the guardian’s consent for the evaluations and on May 29, and June 4, an IEP team meeting was conducted to determine eligibility within 60 days after receiving consent for evaluation. The student was found eligible for special education.

The district acknowledges that it did not properly proceed with the guardian’s written referral for a special education evaluation. As corrective action, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting for the student to consider whether compensatory services are required because of the delay in the evaluation. By September 3, 2013, the district must send to the department a copy of the IEP documenting consideration of compensatory service. In addition, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must also submit a corrective action plan to ensure district staff properly respond to a parent’s or guardian’s request for a special education evaluation, and complete the evaluation within the required timelines. The district’s letter to the department, dated July 8, 2013, includes a plan to provide staff development to student support teams in all district schools on the process and procedures for responding to written special education referrals, to provide further staff development on the end of the year procedures for sharing information with the staff who will work with students during the following school year. This staff development may be included in the corrective action plan.

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 8/2/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support