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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-061

On September 1, 2017, the department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the department. This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issue is whether the department in responding to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) complaints 16-054, 16-080, 17-006, and 17-016 followed the required state complaint procedures outlined in 34 CFR §300.151 and 34 CFR §300.152.

This decision addresses whether the required complaint procedures were followed. It does not address the substantive findings of the decisions. Wisconsin IDEA complaint decisions may not be further appealed or reconsidered through the IDEA complaint process. Rather, the IDEA provides for mediation and due process hearings as alternative dispute resolution options when a party disagrees with the outcome of an IDEA complaint decision. This decision also does not address any alleged violations of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The department’s review authority under 34 CFR § 300.153 is limited to violation of Part B of IDEA.

APPLICABLE IDEA REGULATIONS

The following sections of the Code of Federal Regulations are relevant to the resolution of this complaint.

34 CFR § 300.151

(b) Remedies for denial of appropriate services. In resolving a complaint in which the SEA has found a failure to provide appropriate services, an SEA, pursuant to its general supervisory authority under Part B of the Act, must address—

(1) The failure to provide appropriate services, including corrective action appropriate to address the needs of the child (such as compensatory services or monetary reimbursement); and

(2) Appropriate future provision of services for all children with disabilities.

34 CFR § 300.152

(a) Time limit; minimum procedures. Each SEA must include in its complaint procedures a time limit of 60 days after a complaint is filed under §300.153 to—

(1) Carry out an independent on-site investigation, if the SEA determines that an investigation is necessary;

(2) Give the complainant the opportunity to submit additional information, either orally or in writing, about the allegations in the complaint;

(3) Provide the public agency with the opportunity to respond to the complaint, including, at a minimum—

(i) At the discretion of the public agency, a proposal to resolve the complaint; and (ii) An opportunity for a parent who has filed a complaint and the public agency to voluntarily engage in mediation consistent with §300.506;

(4) Review all relevant information and make an independent determination as to whether the public agency is violating a requirement of Part B of the Act or of this part; and

(5) Issue a written decision to the complainant that addresses each allegation in the complaint and contains—

(i) Findings of fact and conclusions; and

(ii) The reasons for the SEA’s final decision.

(b) Time extension; final decision; implementation. The SEA’s procedures described in paragraph (a) of this section also must—

(2) Include procedures for effective implementation of the SEA’s final decision, if needed, including—

(i) Technical assistance activities;

(ii) Negotiations; and

(iii) Corrective actions to achieve compliance.

FINDINGS OF FACTS

The four complaints at issue here were originally filed by the parent and involved the same school district and the same student.

IDEA Complaint 16-054

The department received complaint 16-054 on July 13, 2016. On July 29, 2016, the department issued a written acknowledgement of the complaint which identified the following two issues to be investigated:

Whether the school district properly conducted a special education evaluation in all areas related to a student’s suspected disabilities, and

Whether the district properly developed an individualized education program (IEP) based upon an evaluation.

The acknowledgement offered the district an opportunity to propose a resolution for the complaint, and indicated the parent and the district may voluntarily engage in mediation.

The department’s investigator determined an on-site investigation was not necessary, and proceeded to review written records and other information submitted by the district and the complainant. During the investigation, the district acknowledged that it had not conducted a comprehensive evaluation in failing to consider eligibility under specific learning disability (SLD) criteria. The departments issued a written decision on September 9, 2016. The decision provided the relevant facts and concluded the district had not complied with relevant legal requirements as to issues one and two. As corrective action, the department ordered the district to:

Conduct a reevaluation to consider eligibility under SLD and visual impairment criteria,

Review and revise the IEP as appropriate, and

Consider the need for compensatory services should the reevaluation identify additional needs that were not addressed in the previous IEP.

On December 3, 2016, the district provided evidence the IEP team had met and considered eligibility using SLD and visual impairment criteria, the IEP team had reviewed and revised the IEP, and that the IEP team had considered and identified compensatory services. The complaint was consequently closed.

IDEA Complaint 16-080

The department received IDEA complaint 16-080 on December 21, 2016. On February 6, 2017, the department issued a written acknowledgement of the complaint which identified the following three issues to be investigated:

Whether the district properly included required participants for a meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team,

Whether the district properly documented the location for provision of supplementary aids and services in an IEP, and

Whether the district properly responded to a request from parent to examine records prior to an IEP team meeting.

The acknowledgement offered the district an opportunity to propose a resolution for the complaint, and indicated the parent and the district may voluntarily engage in mediation.

The department’s investigator determined an on-site investigation was not necessary, and proceeded to review written records and other materials submitted by the district and the complainant. The department issued a written determination on February 17, 2017. The decision provided the relevant facts and concluded the district had complied with relevant legal requirements as to issues one and two, but had not complied with relevant legal requirements as to issue three. As corrective action, the department ordered the district to provide the requested information to the parent.

On March 28, 2017, and April 13, 2017, the district provided the department with evidence it had supplied the information to the parent, and the complaint was consequently closed.

IDEA Complaint 17-006

The department received IDEA complaint 17-006 on January 20, 2017. On February 6, 2017, the department issued a written acknowledgement of the complaint which identified the following two issues to be investigated:

Whether the district properly determined the need for extended school year (ESY) services, and

Whether the district properly considered the need for the related services of occupational and/or physical therapy.

The acknowledgement offered the district an opportunity to propose a resolution for the complaint, and indicated the parent and the district may voluntarily engage in mediation.

The department’s investigator determined an on-site investigation was not necessary, and proceeded to review written records and other materials submitted by the district and the complainant. The department issued a written decision on March 21, 2017. The decision provided the relevant facts and concluded the district had complied with the relevant legal requirements for each of the identified issues. Consequently, no corrective action was required.

IDEA Complaint 17-016

The department received IDEA complaint 17-016 on March 27, 2017, and April 6, 2017. On April 6, 2017, the department issued a written acknowledgement of the complaint which identified five issues to be investigated:

Whether the district properly included required participants for an IEP team meeting,

Whether the district properly provided the parent meaningful opportunity to participate in an IEP team meeting,

Whether the district properly conducted a special education evaluation,

Whether the district predetermined eligibility, and

Whether the district properly developed an IEP designed to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability.

The acknowledgement offered the district an opportunity to propose a resolution for the complaint, and indicated the parent and the district may voluntarily engage in mediation.

The department’s investigator determined an on-site investigation was not necessary, and proceeded to review written records and other information submitted by the district and the complainant. The department issued a written decision on May 26, 2017, which recited the relevant facts and concluded the district had complied with the relevant legal requirements for each of the identified issues.

DISCUSSION

For each of the complaints the department completed its investigation and issued a written decision within the required 60 day timeline. In each complaint, the department reviewed records and information provided by the parent and the district. In each complaint the department offered the district the opportunity to propose a resolution to the complaint, and the district and the parent to engage in mediation. Based on relevant information reviewed the department made independent determinations as to whether the district was violating a requirement of Part B of IDEA. The department’s determination in each case was set out in a written determination which included findings of fact and conclusions as well as the reasons for the department’s final decisions. In instances where the department determined the district had violated a Part B requirement, the department directed the district to take corrective action. Where corrective action was ordered, the department verified the corrective action had been completed by the district. The department followed the required state complaint procedures as outlined in 34 CFR § 300.151 and 34 CFR §300.152.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 11/1/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support