On February 27, 2015 (form dated February 9, 2015), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2014-15 school year, properly conducted a special education evaluation.
School districts are required under state and federal special education law to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities who are in need of special education and related services. Each district must establish written 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 conduct an evaluation of the child. 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 May 9, 2014, the parent initiated a special education referral stating concerns about the student’s academic performance and health impairments. A review of existing evaluation data was conducted on May 20, and May 21, with the required district staff members. The parent was contacted three times to participate in the review of existing data; however, the parent did not provide input. On May 22, within 15 business days of receiving the referral, the district sent the parent notice and a request for consent to evaluate the student and conduct additional assessments. This included a description of the areas to be evaluated and the types of assessments that would be used. On October 29, the district received the parent consent to conduct additional assessments.
On December 15, 2014, within the 60 day time limit, the IEP team met to determine eligibility for special education. The IEP team reviewed information, including district assessments and evaluations, teacher observations, outside medical information provided by the parent, and parent concerns. Prior to the IEP team meeting, the parent provided medical information from outside evaluations. The medical information provided by the parent was considered by the IEP team and was included in the evaluation paperwork.
The IEP team determined the student did not have an impairment and need for special education. The IEP team’s evaluation report included documentation that the student did not meet eligibility criteria and was not eligible for special education. The district properly conducted a special education evaluation.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 4/24/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support