On September 3, 2014, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2013-14 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 with a regular high school diploma. 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. When it is determined additional assessments are required, the district must send to the parent a notice seeking consent to conduct additional assessments. The notice must inform the parent of any evaluation procedures the district proposes to conduct and the names of the individuals who will conduct the evaluation if known. At a minimum, the notice must describe the types of assessments that will be used and the areas that will be assessed. If the specific assessment tools are known, they should be listed with a brief description. In addition, the public agency may not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability.
On February 4, 2014, the district received a special education referral for the student. After a review of existing data on February 20, which included all of the required IEP team members, a notice seeking consent to conduct additional assessments was sent to the child’s parent on February 25. On March 11, the district received the parent’s consent for evaluation. On April 29, an IEP team meeting was conducted to determine eligibility. At the April IEP team meeting, the team, including the parent, agreed additional assessments were needed. The IEP team meeting was ended to be reconvened after the additional data was available. The parent was provided notice and consent for the additional assessments, which included a description of the areas to be evaluated and the types of assessments that would be used. Three specific assessment titles were listed on the notice, to be administered by the school psychologist. The parent provided the district signed consent for additional assessments in the areas of social emotional and perceptional processing, including executive functioning.
In May, a district school psychologist administered assessments in the area of social emotional and perceptional processing, including executive functioning, in accordance with the notice. Although, the specific test listed on the April 29 notice was not given, the areas to be evaluated as described in the notice were assessed. No single measure or assessment was used as the sole criterion for determining whether the child is a child with a disability. The district, during the 2013-14 school year, properly conducted a special education evaluation of the child.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 10/22/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support