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IDEA Complaint Decision 24-004

On January 8, 2024 (form dated January 5, 2024), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (complainant) against the #### (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning January 8, 2023, properly conducted a reevaluation and dismissed a student from special education.

To be considered a “student with a disability” under state and federal special education law, a student must be found to meet criteria for one or more disability category, and as a result of that disability, require specially designed instruction. 34 CFR § 300.8. The purpose of a special education reevaluation is to determine whether a student continues to have a disability requiring specially designed instruction, and to ensure the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team has sufficient current information about the student’s educational needs to develop an appropriate program. 34 CFR § 300.301(c)(2). A district must conduct a reevaluation of each student with a disability at least once every three years unless the district and parent agree that a reevaluation is unnecessary. As part of any special education reevaluation, the IEP team, including the student’s parents, must conduct a review of existing data and information about the student. If the IEP team determines additional information is needed, the district must, within 15 business days of a notice initiating an evaluation, request in writing parental consent for additional testing. The IEP team must use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child and 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 and for determining an appropriate educational program for the child. 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 §§ 300.303-311 and Wis. Stat. § 115.787 and 115.78(3).

The student who is the subject of this complaint began attending school in the district at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. The student had an IEP developed by their previous school district in April 2023, which indicated the student required specially designed instruction in the areas of “coping and self-regulation” for 20 minutes a day and “math numeracy skills” 2-3 times a week for 60 minutes. The student’s most recent special education evaluation was conducted in November 2020. The current district realized a reevaluation was due and initiated the process early in the 2023-24 school year. Documentation indicates the IEP team, including the student’s parent, met to review existing information about the student on September 14, 2023. The team determined that they needed to gather some additional information in the area of executive functioning but did not need any additional information about the student’s academic performance.

On November 10, 2023, the student’s IEP team met to conduct the student’s reevaluation. The IEP team concluded that while the student continued to meet the criteria for having a disability under the category of other health impairment (OHI), they no longer required specially designed instruction and their needs could be met through an accommodations plan (504 plan) developed according to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Following the student’s involvement with community-based services since the reevaluation, an outside advocate began to work with the parent. The parent and the advocate questioned the district’s determination that the student did not require specially designed instruction. Through interviews of members of the student’s IEP team and review of the district’s records, the department’s investigator determined that during the reevaluation, the student’s IEP team concluded the student no longer needed specially designed instruction in math based solely on the student’s math teacher’s observation that while the student’s attendance was inconsistent, when present, the student’s understanding of math concepts in class appeared to be at a similar level as their grade level peers. An evaluation cannot be based on one source of information. The IEP team must draw upon information from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input, and teacher recommendations, as well as information about the student’s physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior. The information obtained from these sources must be documented and carefully considered when conducting a reevaluation. 34 CFR §§ 300.303-306

The district did not properly conduct the student’s reevaluation. While the IEP team conducted some assessments around the student’s executive functioning, the IEP team considered only staff observations in making its decision and did not consider a variety of sources of data in determining whether the student continued to need specially designed instruction.

Within 15 days of the date of this decision, the district must commence a reevaluation, including reconsidering its initial review of existing data to determine whether the IEP team requires additional information to determine if the student continues to be a student in need of special education. In conducting the reevaluation, the IEP team must also consider a variety of sources of information. The district must provide a copy of the completed reevaluation within ten days of completing the reevaluation.

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 or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.

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