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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-004

On January 27, 2016 (form dated January 25, 2016), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Fond du Lac School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2015-16 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. 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 October 5, 2015, the district received a special education referral stating concerns about the student’s behavior and social interactions. A review of existing evaluation data was conducted on October 16, and October 19, with the required district staff members and parent. On October 19, 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 19, the district received the parent’s consent to conduct additional assessments.

On December 7, 2015, within the 60 day time limit, the IEP team met to determine eligibility for special education. The IEP team reviewed information, including evaluations, developmental and sensory checklists, and teacher observations. During the IEP team meeting, some staff members expressed concerns regarding the student’s social interactions, specific to communication skills. The IEP team, including the speech and language pathologist, used the speech and language evaluation and observations to demonstrate that the student was functioning in the at to above average range in the area of social communication, in both receptive and expressive language. The team felt that the student also displayed age appropriate behavior and social skills.

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 3/21/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support