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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-015

On February 24, 2018 (form dated February 19, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the Waukesha School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issues raised are whether the district, during the 2017-2018 school year:
  • Properly conducted a special education reevaluation for a student with a disability; and
  • Properly responded to a parent’s request for pupil records for a student with a disability.

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

As part of any special education reevaluation, the individualized education program (IEP) team, including the student’s parents, must conduct a review of existing data. 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 testing. The IEP team may not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a student is, or continues to be, a student with a disability. Within 60 days after the district receives parental consent for administering tests or other assessments, the IEP team must meet to determine whether the student has an impairment and needs special education. When a student is being initially evaluated for a specific learning disability (SLD), with mutual agreement with the parent, the 60-day timeline may be extended to collect the necessary data.

The district provided the parents with a notice of reevaluation on December 13, 2017. The IEP team reviewed existing information and determined that it was necessary to conduct additional assessments. On December 21, 2018, the district received parental consent for the additional assessments to be performed. School staff conducted a series of formal and informal assessments to evaluate the student’s functional performance and academic achievement. The IEP team also implemented several scientific research-based interventions with the student in areas of academic concern. The IEP team met on February 19, 2018, to determine the student’s continuing eligibility for special education and consider eligibility for Specific Learning Disorder (SLD). The IEP team reviewed all information, including existing data, results of formal and informal assessments conducted as part of the reevaluation, and data from the student’s response to scientific research-based interventions informed the team’s determination. The district determined the student continues to qualify for special education but the student did not meet the criteria to be identified as a student with SLD. 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 a parent’s request for pupil records for a student with a disability

School districts must permit parents and/or adult students to inspect and review any education records 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. If a student’s name appears on a document or the student’s answers or work appear in a document, such as a test protocol, then the document is an education record to which the parent has a right to inspect and review.

On February 11, 2018, the parent sent an email to the student’s IEP team requesting, in advance of the IEP meeting scheduled on February 19, 2018, copies of any new additions to the student’s education record, a draft copy of the proposed IEP, and all related reports pertaining to evaluations. The district provided the parent with the requested records via email on February 16, 2018. Hard copies were also made available for the parent to retrieve from the school office. Staff contacted the parent by phone to ensure that she received the records. During the phone call, the parent asked if the ‘score sheets’ had been included in the records provided. The staff member stated that she did not interpret the request for pupil records to include this specific document because it is not usually included in the evaluator’s summary report. After the phone call, the staff member contacted the evaluator to obtain the document. The document was brought to the IEP team meeting on February 19, 2018, to share with the parent, but it was not given to the parent until after the meeting concluded. Because the document was available at the time of the IEP team meeting, the district should have complied with this request prior to the meeting. The district did not properly respond to the parent’s request for pupil records.

Because the district has provided the requested record to the parent, there is no student specific corrective action required. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 4/25/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158