On December 16, 2019 (form dated December 13, 2019), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2019-20 school year, properly conducted a special education reevaluation of a student with a disability.
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 (IEP) 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 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. (34 CFR §§ 300.304-306).
The most recent prior special education evaluation of the student who is the subject of this complaint was completed by the district in December of 2016. At that time, the student qualified for special education in the impairment areas of intellectual disability, other health impairment, and speech and language disability. The student was due to have a three-year reevaluation in December of 2019. District staff contacted the student’s parent to participate in the review of existing data by telephone on September 16, 2019. On September 30, 2019, the district sent the student’s parent a notice of reevaluation and consent to conduct additional tests. A school secretary emailed a reminder to the parent on October 8, 2019, explaining the district had not yet received the signed consent form and asking if the parent needed another copy. In the complaint, the parent noted she felt pressured by the district’s approach and sent an email back to the secretary indicating the parent had not had sufficient time to review the document. The student’s parent had questions about some of the items listed on the review of existing data. According to a district log, the school psychologist called the parent on October 9, 2019, and the school psychologist discussed the parent’s concern. The parent signed and returned the consent form on October 17, 2019.
The student’s IEP team, including the student’s parent, met for a reevaluation meeting on December 9, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to determine if the student continued to qualify for the same impairment areas or any additional categories. The school psychologist discussed the results of the student’s intelligence quotient (IQ) test. The parent became concerned that the psychologist was indicating the student would no longer qualify for special education in the impairment area of intellectual disabilities. The parent requested that if the student was not going to qualify for services under the impairment area of intellectual disabilities, the meeting had to stop and she wanted to have an advocate present. Some of the other team members told the parent the team was not making eligibility determinations yet. Rather, the team was just beginning the review of the assessments. The team stopped the discussion for ten to fifteen minutes and stayed in the meeting room with the parent while she looked up some statutes on her phone. Some team members then asked the parent if they could continue the discussion of the student’s eligibility. The parent stayed in the room and the group continued its discussion and completion of the eligibility checklists. The parent participated in the discussion and suggested some supplementary services to help the student in the classroom. The team determined the student continued to meet the eligibility criteria for intellectual disabilities, other health impaired, and speech and language.
At the time the student’s parent asked the meeting participants to stop, they had not made any determinations of eligibility. The parent and the rest of the team stayed in the room and ultimately finished the discussion and completed the reevaluation. As the parent remained in the room, it was reasonable for the IEP team to continue with the meeting. The district properly conducted a special education reevaluation of a student with a disability.
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 the department's website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution for more information.
//signed by BVH 2/13/20
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support