On October 28, 2019, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2019-2020 school year, properly fulfilled its responsibility to identify, locate, and evaluate a student with a disability; and properly followed special education disciplinary requirements.
A school district must ensure that all children with disabilities residing in the district and who are in need of special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated. (34 CFR § 300.111[a]). Any person who believes a student is a student with a disability may refer the student to the district for a special education evaluation. A person who is required to be licensed under § 115.28(7) of the Wisconsin statutes, who is employed by a school district and who reasonably believes a child has a disability, shall refer the child to the school district. (Wis. Stat. §115.777(1)(b)). Within 15 business days of receipt of a referral, the district must send the parents a request for consent to evaluate the student. (Wis. Stat. § 115.777). Within 60 days from the receipt of the parent’s consent for testing, an IEP team meeting must be held to determine eligibility.
At the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, the student’s behavior at school began to deteriorate resulting in the student being sent home from school frequently. District staff reasonably attributed the student’s behavior to changes in the student’s life outside of school and the behavior of certain peers at school. District staff did not have reason to believe the student’s behavior was related to a disability. The student’s parent made a referral for evaluation for special education to the district on October 3, 2019. The district requested parental consent to conduct the evaluation on October 22 and received the parent’s consent for the evaluation on October 31. As of the date of this complaint, the district’s evaluation of the student is in process. In responding to the parent’s referral for evaluation within the required timeline, the district appropriately fulfilled its responsibility to identify, locate, and evaluate a student with a disability.
With the exception of some circumstances not relevant to the facts of this complaint, special education disciplinary requirements generally apply only to students who have been evaluated and found eligible for special education services. The district has not yet completed its evaluation of the student in this complaint; as such, the student is currently not eligible for special education and the disciplinary requirements do not apply.
This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolutions, including mediation and due process hearings. Visit http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution for more information.
//signed by BVH 12/19/19
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support