On May 12, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (department) 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 issue is whether the district, during the 2016-17 school year, properly fulfilled its responsibility to identify, locate, and evaluate a student with a disability.
School districts are required under state and federal special education law to locate, identify, and evaluate all resident students with disabilities who have not graduated from high school. Each district must establish written procedures for accepting and processing referrals. Districts must also provide information and in-service opportunities to its entire licensed staff to familiarize them with the district’s referral procedures. Referrals must be in writing, include the name of the child, and the reason(s) why the person believes that the child is a child with a disability. If a licensed educator employed by the school district reasonably believes a child has a disability, the educator must initiate a special education referral. Furthermore, a physician, nurse, psychologist, social worker, or administrator of a social agency who reasonably believes that a child brought to him or her for services has a disability also is required to refer the child to the local educational agency (LEA) for evaluation. Any person, including the parent, who reasonably believes that a child is a child with a disability, may refer the child to the LEA. When a verbal request for a special education evaluation is made, the LEA must inform the person of their right to make a referral and how to make a referral. The district must accept and process all written referrals submitted to the district. Within 15 business days of receiving a referral, the LEA must send to the child’s parents a request for consent to evaluate the child, or notice that no additional testing is needed.
During the 2016-2017 school year, the student attended a district high school. The student did not have any behavioral incidents during the 2016-2017 school year and most recent district benchmark test scores were in the average range. The student’s attendance was problematic, and several staff at the high school made multiple contacts with the student and the student’s family to attempt to address attendance. District staff did not have reason to believe the student was a child with a disability and the district did not receive an outside written or verbal request for a special education evaluation.
On May 23, 2017, the student’s grandparent left a voicemail message on an assistant principal’s telephone stating that she had filed a complaint with the department for an individualized education program (IEP) for the student. On May 24, 2017, the assistant principal returned a call to the grandparent to discuss the voice mail communication including an IEP for the student and sent to the grandparent information for the student to attend summer school to complete credits toward graduation. In addition, after the phone call, the assistant principal contacted the school counselor, special education program support teacher, and the district chief of special education and student support. On June 6, 2017, the district chief of special education contacted the grandparent and assisted in completing a written initial referral for a special education evaluation. On June 9, 2017, the Notice of Receipt of Referral and Start of an Initial Evaluation with a statement of parental rights was sent to the parent. On June 27, 2017, within 15 business days of receiving the referral, the LEA sent to the student’s parent a request for consent to evaluate the child. The district properly fulfilled its responsibility to identify, locate and are processing an evaluation for the student.
This concludes our review of this complaint.