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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-076

On November 2, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Portage Community School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning November 2, 2016, properly conducted a special education evaluation of a student.

Under state and federal special education law, districts are required to locate, identify, and evaluate all resident students with disabilities who have not graduated from high school with a regular high school diploma. All referrals for special education and related services must be in writing and include the student’s name and the reason the person believes the student is a student with a disability. The district must accept and process all referrals it receives. Parent(s) may submit referrals for special education and related services. If a parent makes a referral, the district must inform them of their right to make a referral and give them information about how to make the referral. Upon receipt of a referral, the district must appoint an individualized education program (IEP) team, including the parent(s), and the IEP team must conduct a review of existing data to determine what additional data, if any, are needed to complete the evaluation. Within 15 business days of receiving the referral, the district must send a request for consent for additional testing or notice that no additional testing is necessary to the student’s parent(s).

Sixty days after receiving parental consent for additional assessments or notifying parent(s) that none are needed, an IEP team meeting must be conducted to determine if the student is eligible for special education and related services. The evaluation must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the student’s special education and related service needs. The parent must be provided with a copy of the evaluation report that includes documentation of determination of eligibility for special education.

An evaluation for special education was initiated at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. The parent completed the district’s referral for special education and related services form and it was received in the district office on September 8, 2016. The district documented three attempts to involve the parent in the review of existing data and proposed additional assessments and other evaluation materials based on the recommendations of the other IEP team members. These included collecting cognitive, academic, and behavioral data on the student to cover all areas of concern in the referral. On September 22, the district requested the consent of the parents to administer additional assessments and evaluation materials and consent was received from a parent on October 3.

On November 30, the IEP team, including the parent, met to discuss the results of the assessments and other evaluation materials and determine eligibility. The evaluation considered the eligibility checklist in the impairment area closest to the concerns listed in the parent’s referral and included data from a number of sources, consideration of all areas of concern, and was sufficiently comprehensive. The IEP team determined that the student did not qualify for special education and related services. There is evidence that the parent did not receive notice of the IEP team findings and a copy of the evaluation report until January 23, 2017. On February 6, 2017, the parent removed the student from the district and began providing a home-based private education program. Though the district met all required evaluation timelines and conducted a comprehensive evaluation, the district did not provide the parent a copy of the evaluation report until almost two months after the IEP team meeting.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the district began an internal system of controls to track the date of IEP team meetings and the date IEP paperwork and notices are provided to parents. The department finds that this corrective action is acceptable to address the issues in this complaint, and will verify current compliance with this district.

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 12/22/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158