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IDEA Complaint Decision 13-065

On December 7, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Brown Deer School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2013-14 school year, properly responded to a parent’s request for a special education evaluation.

School districts are required 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. The referral procedures must address referrals from school staff, parents, and others in the community. Districts have an obligation to inform parents of the procedures for making special education referrals. All referrals must be in writing, include the name of the student and the reasons why the person believes the student is a student with a disability. The district is required to document and date the receipt of each referral. The district must accept and process all referrals submitted to the district. District procedures cannot require a referring person to obtain information from outside sources, including medical information from physicians, before the district accepts the referral.

During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, the parent made several verbal requests for the school district to conduct an initial evaluation of the student. During November 2013, the parent sent an email to a district staff person requesting a special education evaluation. District staff did not inform the parent of the district’s procedures for making a special education referral. The staff person responded to the parent’s email, indicating the evaluation could begin as soon as school staff received a medical diagnosis from a physician. The district acknowledges this error and initiated a referral on December 10, 2013.

As corrective action, if the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determines the student is eligible for special education, the district must consider whether compensatory services are required because of the delay in the evaluation. Within 60 days of this decision, the district must send to the department evaluation materials and, if the student is found eligible, a copy of the student’s IEP documenting consideration of compensatory services.

In addition to the student-specific corrective action noted above, within thirty days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a corrective plan to ensure that all requests for special education referrals are responded to properly.

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 2/13/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support