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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-059

On September 11, 2017 (form dated September 6, 2017), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the Madison Metropolitan School District. This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issue is whether the district properly determined the educational placement for a student with a disability for the 2017-18 school year.

Every student who is eligible for special education must receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), and the individualized education program (IEP) developed must be reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s unique circumstances. In Wisconsin, an IEP team must determine the special education placement for a student with a disability. The placement decision must be made based on the student’s IEP and individualized needs. Each school district must ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are nondisabled; and removal from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

In developing the student’s IEP, the IEP team considered the strengths of the student, the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of the student, the results of the most recent evaluation of the student, and the academic, developmental, and functional needs of the student. The team documented the parents’ concerns regarding the student’s development and their desire for the student to remain in a four-year-old kindergarten (4K) program for a second year in lieu of entering five-year-old kindergarten (5K) for the 2017-2018 school year. The IEP reflects that the formal request for the student to remain in 4K was made on May 24, 2017. As a result of that request, the IEP team agreed that the initiation of a special education re-evaluation was appropriate to gain additional information to inform the student’s IEP. The re-evaluation consisted of the student being evaluated in the areas of attention and social emotional development, gross motor and functional mobility, oral language and communication, and social emotional and cognitive skills.

On August 10, 2017, the IEP team convened to discuss the results of the re-evaluation and to determine placement. The IEP team determined that the student continues to meet special education eligibility. The IEP team also considered the parent’s request for placement in the 4K program and determined that placement in the 5K program was the most appropriate placement to provide the student with FAPE in the least restrictive environment, and it is the school located in the student’s neighborhood where the student would have the option to enroll even if the student did not have a disability. On August 14, 2017, the district sent parents a properly constituted prior written notice, which indicated that the district refuses to provide special education and related services to the student in a 4K placement.

Through the district’s documentation, the IEP team demonstrated it considered requests made by the parents, properly developed the student’s IEP, and determined placement. The student is currently enrolled in a 4K program and does not receive special education services and related supports from the district. The district offered the student FAPE during the 2017-18 school year, but the parents declined placement. The district properly followed procedures to determine placement for the 2017-18 school year.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 11/10/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158