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IDEA Complaint Decision 20-042

On May 22, 2020 (letter dated May 19, 2020), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainants) against XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue identified is whether the district, during the 2019-20 school year, properly responded to a request from a parent for a special education evaluation.

Referrals for special education evaluations must be in writing and must include the name of the student, as well as the reasons the person making the referral believes the student is a student with a disability. Districts are responsible for informing parents about the district’s referral procedures. Upon receipt of a referral, the district must notify the parent of the referral and appoint an individualized education program (IEP) team. The IEP team must conduct a review of existing data to determine what additional data, if any, are needed to complete the evaluation. (34 CFR §§ 300.503[a][1] and 300.305[a]; Wis. Stat. §§ 115.782[2][b] and 115.792[2]). Districts are not required to convene an IEP team meeting for the purpose of reviewing existing data to determine whether additional assessments are necessary. (34 CFR § 300.305[b]).

Within 15 business days of receiving a referral, the district must send to the student’s parent a request for consent for additional assessments or notice that no additional assessments are necessary. (Wis. Stat. § 115.777[3][e]). An IEP team meeting must be conducted to determine eligibility within 60 days after receiving parental consent for evaluation or notifying parents that no additional assessments are needed. (34 CFR § 300.301[c]; Wis. Stat. § 115.78[3][a]).

On February 5, 2020, the student’s parent submitted a written referral to the district by email. The district did not respond. On March 2, 2020, the parent contacted the district again to inquire about the status of the referral. The district responded to the parent on March 2, 2020, and explained that the student would continue to participate in reading interventions during the special education evaluation process, and the district needed time to conduct the review of existing data. The district started the evaluation process for the student on March 5, 2020.

The district acknowledges it did not properly respond to the parent’s initial request for a referral for a special education evaluation. Since receiving the complaint, the district has implemented policies and procedures to ensure referrals are processed upon receipt. No additional district-wide corrective action is required. The student’s special education evaluation is not yet complete because of public health emergency extended school closures. Within ten days of the evaluation meeting, if the team determines the student is eligible for special education, the student’s individualized education program team must consider whether the student requires compensatory services due to the district’s delay in responding to the parent’s request for an evaluation.

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. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolutions, including mediation and due process hearings. For more information, visit the department’s website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution.

Sincerely,

//digitally signed by BVH 7/21/20
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781