On November 4, 2019, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainants) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, since November 4, 2018, improperly ended a student’s eligibility for special education.
A district must reevaluate a child with a disability if the district determines that the educational or related needs of the child, including the child’s academic performance, warrant a reevaluation or if the child’s parent or teacher requests a reevaluation. A reevaluation may not occur more than once a year unless the district and parent agree otherwise and must occur at least once every three years unless the district and parent agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary. (34 CFR § 300.303 and Wis. Stat. § 115.782[a]). The purpose of a reevaluation is to determine whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs. (34 CFR § 300.15). As part of a reevaluation the individualized education program team must review existing evaluation data on the child, previous interventions and the effects of those interventions, current assessments, information provided by the parents of the child, and observations by teachers and related services providers before determining the student’s eligibility for special education. (34 CFR § 300.305 and Wis. Stat. § 115.782[b]).
The student who is the subject of this complaint qualified for special education as a student with autism. The student had an individualized education program (IEP) that included specially designed instruction for 30 minutes per week for monitoring and assisting with stress management, academic organization, and advocacy. The student’s IEP also included supervised breaks, access to resource rooms, and extended time on assignments and exams.
The student was due for a three-year reevaluation in February of 2019. The IEP team requested additional assessments be conducted as part of the reevaluation, including a behavioral assessment, autism rating scales, and classroom observations, and the student’s parents provided written consent for the testing. The IEP team met on February 13, 2019, to conduct the reevaluation. The IEP team reviewed existing data about the student, including information on previous evaluations, information provided by the student’s parents, and previous interventions and their effects. The team also reviewed the results of the additional assessments and classroom observations that were conducted by members of the IEP team. The team considered the eligibility criteria for autism and determined that the student did not meet the criteria specified in Wisconsin Administrative Code PI 11.36, because the student’s difficulty with social communication was deemed to be minimal. Review of records and interviews with staff confirm that there were no concerns about other possible impairments and all participants felt comfortable ending the student’s eligibility for special education.
The parent asserts that as the student has a medical diagnosis of autism, he should have remained eligible for special education services. However, the criteria for a medical diagnosis of autism are not the same as the criteria for special education eligibility under autism. The information presented in documentation from the reevaluation supports the IEP team’s conclusion. In this case, the district properly ended the student’s eligibility for special education.
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 12/26/19
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support