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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-011

On February 7, 2018 (form dated February 4, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the Union Grove UHS School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2017-2018 school year,
  • Properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability;
  • Properly conducted a special education reevaluation of a student with a disability;
  • Properly responded to the request of a parent of a student with a disability for pupil records; and
  • Properly changed the educational placement of a student with a disability.

Properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability

Each student’s IEP must include a statement of the special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports for school staff to be provided based on each student’s unique needs. All services must be provided as described in the IEP. Staff who will implement the student’s IEP must be informed of their specific responsibilities.

The IEP in effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year specified the student was to receive supplementary aids and services in the classes of reading, writing, science, social studies, and math. These supplementary aids and services were provided daily as specified in the IEP. The student also received, as required in the IEP, specially designed adaptive physical education two times per week, 45 minutes per session, in a special education setting. The student’s IEP in effect during the 2017-2018 school year was properly implemented.

Properly conducted a special education reevaluation of a student with a disability

As part of any special education reevaluation, the IEP team, including the student’s parents, must conduct a review of existing data to determine whether the IEP team needs to obtain additional assessment data to conduct the reevaluation. If the IEP team determines additional data are needed, the district must, within 15 business days of receiving the referral, request in writing parental consent for additional assessments. Within 60 days of receiving the parent’s consent for additional testing, the IEP team must meet to determine initial or continuing eligibility for special education.

The parent was notified by phone that the student was referred for a reevaluation by the student’s teacher on November 1, 2017, and a notice of reevaluation was sent to the parent the same day. The IEP team reviewed existing information and determined that it was necessary to conduct additional assessments. On November 21, 2017, the district received parental consent for the additional assessments to be performed. The IEP team met on January 11, 2018, and determined the student continues to qualify for special education, developed an annual IEP including a transition plan, and determined continuing placement. The district determined eligibility within the 60-day timeline from receiving parental consent for administering tests or other assessments. The district properly conducted a special education reevaluation of a student with a disability.

Properly responded to the request of a parent of a student with a disability for pupil records

A local educational agency (LEA) must permit parents and/or adult students to inspect and review any education record that are collected, maintained, or used by the district. A school district must comply with a request for access to education records without unnecessary delay and before any IEP team meeting. In all cases, the school district must comply with a parents and student’s request within 45 days. Education records are records that are directly related to the student and that are maintained by an educational agency or institution or a party acting for or on behalf of the agency or institution. Education records do not include records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.

In an email dated December 13, 2017, the parent asked a staff member to provide drafts of the evaluation reports and IEP prior to the IEP team meeting. On December 15, 2017, the parent sent follow up emails requesting the same materials. A staff member informed the parent that the requested materials were not available at the time of the requests, but that the materials would be shared once the assessments were completed. The reports from the various assessments became available prior to the IEP meeting scheduled on January 11, 2018, and the reports were shared with the parent on January 9th, 10th, and 11th. District staff believed they had satisfied the parent’s request for pupil records. On February 1, 2018, the parent sent an email to staff specifically asking for work samples and data collection upon which two IEP progress reports from earlier in the school year were based. On February 16, 2018, a follow up email was sent by the parent to staff requesting copies of the student’s educational records, including all notes, data collection, work samples, behavior reports, and anything else related to the student’s education. The district sent a copy of the student’s cumulative record to the parent on February 23, 2018. The parent received the requested records. Staff did not interpret the original request made by the parent in December to include the materials that were shared with the parent in February. It was not until the parent explicitly asked for these records in an email dated February 16, 2018, that the district understood and provided the requested records to the parent. The district properly responded to the request of a parent of a child with a disability for pupil records.

Properly changed the educational placement of a student with a disability

In determining the educational placement of a student with a disability, each local educational agency must ensure the placement decision is made by the IEP team during an IEP team meeting at least annually, is based on the student's IEP, and is as close as possible to the student's home. The school district must provide the student’s parents prior written notice whenever the local educational agency proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the educational placement of the student. A district must take steps to ensure one or both of the parents of a child are present at an IEP team meeting and are afforded the opportunity to participate. The district must provide additional time if the parents of the student or the district staff determines at any IEP team meeting that additional time is needed to permit their meaningful participation.

The parent received draft copies of the assessment evaluation reports and proposed IEP between January 9-11, 2018. The IEP team meeting was held on January 11, 2018, and one parent was present. During the meeting, the team reviewed and discussed the IEP section by section, and the parent participated in this discussion and review. During the IEP team meeting, the parent expressed her desire to review the IEP with the student’s other parent and requested additional time. The parent’s request for additional time was reiterated, on January 12 and 16, when the parent sent an email to the IEP team explicitly stating that she did not agree with the proposed IEP, requested an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and did not want anything changed until after the student was evaluated by an independent education evaluator, and the IEP team reconvened. The parents received an email from school staff on January 17, 2018, which included the district’s IEE policy, a list of evaluators, the IEP (including a notice of placement), and procedural safeguards. The district did not schedule another IEP team meeting to allow for additional time. The district did not allow the parent additional time to ensure a meaningful opportunity to participate in the development of the student’s IEP, and consequently, did not properly change the educational placement of a student with a disability.

As corrective action, within 20 days of the date of this decision, the district is directed to reconvene the student’s IEP team to review the student’s current placement. As part of this review, the team must consider returning the student to the student’s previous placement, and if the team rejects this option, document the reasons for its determination in the revised placement notice for the student. The district must send a copy of the student’s revised IEP and placement determination to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting. In addition, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to review, and if necessary, revise policies and procedures around allowing parents meaningful participation in the development of IEPs.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible. This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process.

//signed CST:bvh 4/4/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158