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IDEA Complaint Decision 15-053

On September 3, 2015, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning February 20, 2015, provided required special education services utilizing properly licensed staff.

The complaint alleges that a MPS partnership school did not utilize properly licensed special education staff for grades eighth through twelfth beginning on February 20, 2015. Each school board must ensure every teacher holds a valid certificate, license, or permit issued by the department for the position for which the individual is employed before engaging in duties of such a position. The LEA must ensure professional teaching responsibilities are carried out by a special education teacher who is licensed by the department. The MPS Office of Contracted School Services (CSS) supports the development, successful implementation, and ongoing accountability of partnership schools, and other contracted education programs within MPS. CSS is responsible for the continual oversight, performance evaluation, and compliance monitoring of these schools and programs. MPS acknowledges that the partnership is required to utilize licensed staff.

Between February 20, 2015, and June 2015, the partnership school employed four special education teachers, and two of these teachers were not properly licensed. For each student who received services from either of these two teachers, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine the compensatory education services needed and develop a plan for delivering these services. The IEP team meetings must be completed within 60 days from the date of this decision, and the department must receive documentation that compensatory services were considered within 10 days from the date of the meeting.

For the 2015-16 school year, the partnership school utilized a teacher with a short-term substitute license. However, this teacher provided services from September 1, through October 8, 2015, which is beyond the 20 days permitted by the license. On October 12, 2015, a properly licensed special education teacher began providing services to students in the substitute teacher’s class. Special education services were not provided by a properly licensed staff member between September 30, and October 8, 2015. For each student that received special education services by the short-term substitute, the district must convene an IEP team meeting to determine if compensatory education services are required, and if so, develop a plan for delivering those services. The IEP team meetings must be completed within 60 days from the date of this decision, and the department must receive documentation that compensatory services were considered within 10 days from the date of the meetings.

The district has reviewed, revised, and is implementing procedures to ensure all district partnership schools provide special education services with properly licensed staff. All student specific 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 10/30/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

Dec/jfd