On September 15, 2022, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (Complainant) against the #### School District (District). This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, beginning September 15, 2021, properly responded to a parent's request for a special education evaluation for one student (student A) and properly responded to the parent's request to consider adding specialized transportation to the individualized education program (IEP) of a second student (student B).
On November 8, 2022, the department received a request for a due process hearing from the complainant regarding the issue identified in this complaint pertaining to student B. If a due process hearing request is filed on an issue that is also the subject of a pending IDEA state complaint, the department must set aside any part of the complaint that is being addressed in the due process hearing until the hearing officer issues a final decision. However, any issue in the complaint that is not part of the due process action must be resolved using the 60-day time limit and procedures described in 34 CFR §300.152(a) and (b) as well as 34 CFR §300.152(c)(1). Accordingly, this decision will only address the issue of the special education evaluation for student A.
School districts are required under state and federal special education law to locate, identify, and evaluate all resident students with disabilities who have not graduated from high school. The purpose of an evaluation is to determine whether the student qualifies as a child with a disability in need of special education and the nature and extent of the student's educational needs. As part of a special education evaluation, the school district must appoint an IEP team. Within 15 business days of the district's receipt of the referral, the IEP team, including the student's parent, must conduct a review of existing data to determine what additional data, including information from assessment or other evaluation activities, are needed to complete the evaluation. The district must complete all assessments and hold an IEP team meeting to determine the student's eligibility within 60 days of the district's receipt of the parent's consent to conduct assessments or notify the parent that no additional assessments are needed. 34 CFR §§ 300.304 - 300.306; Wis. Stat. § 115.78(3)(a). All referrals shall be in writing and shall include the name of the child and the reasons why the person believes that the child is a child with a disability. Wis. Stat. § 115.777(2)(a).
On September 8, 2022, the complainant emailed the district to request that her child be evaluated for special education services. The email included the student's name and the reasons that the complainant believed the child is a child with a disability. The district responded by sending the parent a district referral form. The parent returned the completed form on September 30, 2022. The district began its review of existing data immediately and sent the parent a request for consent for additional assessments on October 3, 2022. The parent provided consent for additional assessments on October 5, 2022. As the complainant's initial email included all the necessary components to be considered a referral, the district erred when it did not consider September 8, 2022, the date of the receipt of the referral, and did not begin the 15 business day timeline for reviewing existing data and sending the parent a request for consent to conduct assessments. Under this timeline, the request for consent for additional assessments would need to be sent to the parent by September 29, 2022. The district did not properly respond to a parent's request for a special education evaluation.
Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district will submit to the department a corrective action plan to ensure that the district properly responds to all requests for special education evaluations.
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 or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.