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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-042

On June 7 and June 12, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the River Valley School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2016-17 school year, properly conducted a special education evaluation, and properly afforded the parent of a student with a disability an opportunity to participate in a meeting of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team.

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 with a regular high school diploma. Upon receipt of a referral, the district must appoint an IEP team, and 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. When it is determined additional assessments are required, the district must send to the parent a notice seeking consent to conduct additional assessments. The notice must inform the parent of any evaluation procedures the district proposes to conduct and the names of the individuals who will conduct the evaluation if known. At a minimum, the notice must describe the types of assessments that will be used and the areas that will be assessed. If the specific assessment tools are known, they should be listed with a brief description. In addition, the public agency may not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability.

The IEP team met with the parent on November 28, 2016, to review existing data as part of an evaluation that was requested by the parent. The IEP team determined additional assessments were needed and sent the complainant a notice describing the areas to be assessed as memory, intellectual functioning and information processing skills. The notice described the assessments as follows: WISC-V or UNIT-IQ Test; Children’s Memory Scale; NEPSY-2; other informal and formal tests such as the CTOPP-2 and DAS-II as needed. In addition, the notice listed the name of the individual who was to conduct the tests. The parent objected to the notice that listed some tests “as needed” and refused to sign a consent form to authorize additional tests. Consequently, the district did not proceed with the evaluation.

The district sent the parent adequate notice when it sought consent to conduct additional assessments. The notice informed the parent of the evaluation procedures the district proposed to conduct and the name of the individual who would conduct the evaluation. The notice described the types of assessments that would be used and the areas that would be assessed. Furthermore, the notice included the titles of the assessment tools that might be used. The district followed proper procedures in conducting the evaluation.

A school district must take steps to ensure one or both parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate by other means. The district must notify the parent of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to attend and must schedule the meeting at a mutually agreeable time and place.

District staff made numerous attempts to set an IEP meeting date with the complainant during the month of May 2017, to discuss the student’s extended school year services. On May 1, May 2, May 3, May 9, and May 15, district staff sent emails and received no responses from the parent. On May 18, 2017, district staff sent an email to the parent that stated: “After attempting to set an IEP date, we are going to look to set a meeting for June 5 about 10:00 am. Let me know if you will be available.” On May 19, 2017, the parent replied in an email: “That should work.”

Based on the parent’s May 19 email agreeing to the proposed meeting date, the district sent a written notice to the parent on May 22, 2017, outlining the purpose of the meeting, the date, time, and location of the meeting, and a list of individuals who had been appointed to the IEP team. On June 5, 2017, the district held an IEP meeting for the student to determine if extended school year services were needed. The parent did not attend the meeting and stated he did not receive the written notice of the June 5th meeting. However, the district documented several good faith efforts to schedule an IEP meeting at a date and time that was mutually agreeable to the parent, and notified the parent of the meeting a sufficient time before the meeting occurred. The district properly afforded the parent a meaningful opportunity to participate in the student’s IEP team meeting.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/7/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
CST: mm
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158