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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-064

On August 14, 2018 (form dated August 10, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the Milwaukee Public Schools (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2017-18 school year, properly developed an individualized education program (IEP), and properly determined transportation services for a student with a disability. 

The district is required to determine whether a child with a disability needs related services including transportation in order to benefit from special education. The individualized education program (IEP) team must consider how the child's disability affects the child's need for transportation, including determining whether the student's disability prevents him/her from using the same transportation as nondisabled peers, or from getting to school in the same manner as nondisabled peers. If required, related services must be included in the student’s IEP.

The IEP in effect for the 2017-18 school year was developed on September 11 and October 12, 2017. The IEP team met to review and revise the student’s IEP specific to the parent request for adding door-to-door transportation as a related service to the student’s IEP. The IEP team considered information from the previous school year, current district-level assessments, teacher observation data, and parent concerns. During the October 12 IEP meeting, the parent provided a neuropsychology evaluation from an outside provider that stated the student was diagnosed with a mild cognitive disability. The IEP team agreed to hold a reevaluation to consider the new information. At the end of the meeting a Notice of Reevaluation was initiated and given to the parent.

On December 4, the IEP team met to review the neuropsychology evaluation and additional assessments conducted by the district. The district administered a functional independence of adaptive skills test. The assessment scores from the parent, special education teacher and regular education teacher demonstrated that the student was at least two standard deviations below the mean. The student’s reading, math, and writing skills all fell below and significantly below target level. The student’s intellectual measures were within the extremely low range and consistent with the neuropsychology evaluation provided by the parent. The student’s behavior rating scale that measures inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, defiance, learning problems, and peer relationships demonstrate the student fell in the very elevated to elevated range in the area of inattention and learning problems and average to above average range for defiance/aggression, difficulties with peer relationships, and hyperactive/impulsive behaviors. The IEP team considered eligibility checklists for Speech/Language, Other Health Impairment, Intellectual Disability, and Autism. The team determined the student met criteria for Intellectual Disability, Autism, and Other Health Impairment. The IEP team discussed adding door-to-door transportation as a related service; however, no general consensus was reached among IEP team members. The IEP team agreed to reconvene on December 18 to continue the discussion on the student’s need for door-to-door transportation.

On December 18, the IEP team including the parent reconvened the meeting and discussed the student’s need for door-to-door transportation. District staff stated the student is able to safely ride a school bus, can successfully navigate the school building, and get off at a bus stop. At the conclusion of the December 18 IEP team meeting, the district concluded that the student did require door-to-door transportation as a related service. Although the district staff reports that the student is able to successfully navigate the school building and ride the school bus, the district did not consider or address information in the evaluation report regarding the student’s intellectual and adaptive skills. The evaluation reports the student’s intellectual measures fall within extremely low range and functional independence of adaptive skills within the low to very low range. Because this information was not considered in determining whether  transportation should be provided as a related service, the district did not properly determine transportation services for a student with a disability and therefore did not properly develop the student’s IEP.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district shall conduct an IEP team meeting to discuss and determine using the results from the evaluation report whether the student requires transportation services. Within 10 days of the IEP team meeting, the district must submit a copy of the student’s IEP to the department.

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. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process.

// signed CST:bvh 8/12/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support