On January 3, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Kenosha Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years:
- properly responded to a parent’s request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE) following a special education evaluation;
- properly considered the results of an IEE;
- properly responded to a parent’s request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting;
- properly included the parent in the review of existing data as part of a special education evaluation; and
- properly provided meaningful opportunity for a parent to participate in an IEP team meeting.
Properly responded to a parent’s request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE) following a special education evaluation
An IEE is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not an employee of the student's school district. A parent has the right to an IEE at public expense if the parent disagrees with the district's special education evaluation. Upon receiving a request for an IEE, a school district must inform parents about where to obtain an IEE. The agency must also inform the parents of the district's IEE criteria. The district must respond to the request for an IEE in a reasonable amount of time by either providing the IEE at public expense or requesting a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate.
On January 29, 2016, the student’s parent requested an IEE disputing an August 7, 2015 special education evaluation, where the student was determined not eligible for special education. Between January 29, and February 25, district staff called and emailed the parent multiple times to determine what areas the parent wanted the IEE to address. On February 25, 2016, the district informed the parent about where to obtain an IEE with a list of psychologists that could address all areas. In June, the parent contacted an evaluator from the list provided. On June 28, and July 21, 2016, the district received emails from a professional services group informing them an appointment for an IEE was scheduled and requesting payment authorization, which the district authorized. Given these circumstances, the district properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEE in a reasonable amount of time.
Properly considered the results of an IEE
On September 12, 2016, the district received the IEE report from the independent psychologist. On September 19, the parent requested an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting to discuss the IEE findings and to reconsider the student’s eligibility for special education services in light of the additional data. The district responded requesting the parent complete a special education evaluation referral form for an initial evaluation.
Between September 19, and September 23, the parent clarified that she was not requesting another evaluation, but rather consideration of the information provided by the IEE report. The district then scheduled an IEP team meeting for October 12, 2016. On October 11, the district received additional IEE information from the IEE evaluator. On the morning of October 12, the parent sent the district an email with parent concerns and input regarding the student’s present levels of performance. On October 12, the student’s IEP team met and carefully considered the IEE report and parent concerns. The district team members determined that this information did not change the initial eligibility determination that the student did not meet the criteria for special education. Although the district properly considered the results of the IEE, they did not properly document the IEP team’s decision or provide the parent notice of the district’s decision.
Properly responded to a parent’s request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting; Properly included the parent in the review of existing data as part of a special education evaluation; and Properly provided meaningful opportunity to for a parent to participate in an IEP team meeting
On October 14, 2016, the parent requested another IEP team meeting to again consider the information from the IEE. In response to this request, the district decided to conduct another initial special education evaluation. On October 26, 2016, the district notified the parent by email of the district’s intent to refer the student for a special education evaluation. On October 28, the district sent the parent the written referral, parent rights, and “Notice of Receipt of Referral and Start of an Initial Evaluation.” On the morning of November 8, through an email communication, the district asked the parent for input regarding the review of existing data and need for additional testing. The parent provided input through voice mail and e-mail that no additional testing was needed. On November 16, 2016, the district sent the parent notice requesting consent for additional testing, which was within 15 business days from receipt of the written referral. On December 1, the district received the form indicating the parent was not giving consent for additional testing.
The student’s IEP team met on January 9, 2017, to determine initial eligibility for special education. The meeting was continued on January 23. The parent and the student attended the IEP team meetings on both dates. Information provided verbally by the parent and the student in addition to a parent concern letter, the IEE, and a private November 28, 2016 occupational therapy evaluation provided by the parent were discussed, considered, and documented in the district IEP team evaluation report. The IEP team determined the student did not meet the criteria for an impairment and was not eligible for special education services. The district provided the parents a notice regarding the team’s decisions. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting, properly included the parent in the review of existing data as part of a special education evaluation, and properly provided meaningful opportunity to for the parent to participate in the IEP team meeting.
The district must, within 14 days of the date of this decision, document the October 12 IEP team’s decision, and provide the parent written notice of the refusal to change the identification of the student, and submit this documentation to the department. No further corrective action is required.
All 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 3/2/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support