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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-069

On October 17, 2016, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the XXXXX School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning on October 18, 2015, properly reevaluated a parentally placed private school student with a disability and whether the district properly provided services in accordance with the individualized services plan (ISP).

Special education complaints must allege violations occurring not more than one year prior to the date the complaint is received by the department. District records provided after receipt of this complaint indicate the most recent reevaluation was conducted on October 24, 2014. A reevaluation was not requested prior to this complaint, and a three-year reevaluation was not due. The district has initiated a reevaluation of the student in response to the parents’ complaint.

Students with disabilities who are parentally placed in graded private school programs do not have an individual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services they would receive if enrolled in a public school. School districts must provide for parentally placed private school students with disabilities to equitably participate in special education and related services as a group. School districts and private schools engage in an annual consultation process to determine the types of special education and related services to be provided to parentally placed private school students with disabilities. School districts designate which eligible students will be provided services. A services plan is developed for each student who has been designated by the school district to receive services. Parents may make requests regarding staff assignments, however districts are responsible for the assignment of specific staff to implement students’ services plans.

The student who is the subject of this complaint is parentally placed in a private school located within the boundaries of the school district. The student received early childhood services under an individualized education program (IEP) during the 2014-15 school year while attending a private preschool program. When the student entered the private school’s graded program at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, the student was no longer eligible for an IEP. At that time, the district designated the student to receive occupational (OT) and physical therapy (PT) services. The district continued to provide the OT and PT services on the student’s IEP until an ISP team meeting was held for the student on October 26, 2015. The parent participated in the meeting. The student’s ISP went into effect on November 2, 2015. The plan called for the student to receive 60 minutes weekly of both OT and PT, to be provided at the private school. The district substantively provided the services on a regular schedule during the 2015-16 school year.

In June 2016, the parents raised concerns about the student’s assigned occupational therapist and requested a different therapist be provided. District staff considered the parents’ concerns and request. On August 26, 2016, the district responded in writing that it could not accommodate the parent’s request due to district caseload and staff assignments, but would continue providing services with the assigned therapist. The parents informed the district they wanted OT services from the district, but would not accept the services until the student’s therapist was changed. On September 23, 2016, the district sent a letter to the parents indicating it had reviewed the parents’ concerns and determined the services provided by the assigned OT were appropriate and implemented in accordance with the ISP. The district restated it would continue to provide OT services to the student with the assigned OT and would be willing to hold an ISP meeting to discuss the services provided as well as initiate a reevaluation prior to the three year timeline at the parents’ request.

An annual review of the student’s ISP was conducted on October 20, 2016. The parent attended the meeting. No changes were made to the student’s services and the parent continued to refuse services from the assigned OT. The student continues to receive the PT services included in the student’s ISP. As mentioned previously, a reevaluation of the student has also been initiated. Since the student is parentally placed in a private school, the district is not obligated to provide OT services to the student.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 12/15/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support