IDEA Complaint Decision 00-053

On August 30, 2000 (letter dated August 30, 2000), a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This complaint alleges a violation of special education law regarding the implementation of programs for children with disabilities.

Pursuant to 34 CFR 300.660-662 of the regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 115.762(3)(g) and 115.90(1), Wis. Stats., the Department of Public Instruction investigated this complaint. In investigating a complaint, the department reviews a district's compliance with state and federal requirements. In investigating this complaint, department staff reviewed relevant portions of the youth's education records and written statements from the district and complainant. Department staff contacted by telephone a district special education supervisor, school office staff and interviewed the complainant.

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ISSUE:

the district fail to conduct an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting in a timely manner following a July 20, 2000, parent request for an IEP team meeting?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

Section 115.76, Wisconsin Statutes
Definitions.

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(7) "Free appropriate public education" means special education and related services that are provided at public expense and under public supervision and direction, meet the standards of the department, include an appropriate preschool, elementary or secondary school education and are provided in conformity with an individualized education program.

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(9) "Individualized education program" means a written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed and revised in accordance with 115.787.

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Section 115.78, Wisconsin Statutes
Individualized education program team; timeline.

(lm) APPOINTMENT OF TEAM. The local educational agency shall appoint an individualized education program team for each child referred to it under 115.777.

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(2) DUTIES OF TEAM. The individualized education program team shall do all of the following:
(a) Evaluate the child under 115.782 to determine the child's eligibility or continued eligibility for special education and related services and the educational needs of the child.
(b) Develop an individualized education program for the child under 115.787.
(c) Determine the special education placement for the child under 115.79.

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Section 115.787, Wisconsin Statutes
Individualized education programs.

(1) REQUIREMENT THAT PROGRAM BE IN EFFECT. At the beginning of each school year, each local educational agency shall have in effect, for each child with a disability, an individualized education program.

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(4) REVIEW AND REVISION. (a) The individualized education program team shall do all of the following:
1. Review the child's individualized education program periodically, but at least annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved.
2. Revise the individualized education program as appropriate to address all of the following:
a. Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general curriculum.
b. The results of any reevaluation conducted under 115.782.
c. Information about the child provided to or by the child's parents, as described in  115.782.
d. The child's anticipated needs.
e. Other matters.

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Section 115.792, Wisconsin Statutes
Procedural Safeguards.

(1) SAFEGUARDS ENSURED.

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(b) The local educational agency shall establish and maintain procedures to ensure that a child's parents are provided prior written notice whenever the local educational agency proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child. In this paragraph, "local educational agency" includes the nonresident school district that a child is attending under  118.51.

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34 CFR 300.343 IEP meetings.

(a) General. Each public agency is responsible for initiating and conducting meetings for the purpose of developing, reviewing, and revising the IEP of a child with a disability (or, if consistent with Sec. 300.342(c), an IFSP).

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ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIAL INTERPRETATIONS:

34 CFR Part 300, Appendix A, Question 20

20. How frequently must a public agency conduct meetings to review, and, if appropriate, revise the IEP for each child with a disability?

A public agency must initiate and conduct meetings periodically, but at least once every twelve months, to review each child's IEP, in order to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved, and to revise the IEP, as appropriate, to address: (a) Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general curriculum, if appropriate; (b) the results of any reevaluation; (c) information about the child provided to, or by, the parents; (d) the child's anticipated needs; or (e) other matters ( 300.343(c)).

A public agency also must ensure that an IEP is in effect for each child at the beginning of each school year ( 300.342(a)). It may conduct IEP meetings at any time during the year. However, if the agency conducts the IEP meeting prior to the beginning of the next school year, it must ensure that the IEP contains the necessary special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to ensure that the student's IEP can be appropriately implemented during the next school year. Otherwise, it would be necessary for the public agency to conduct another IEP meeting. Although the public agency is responsible for determining when it is necessary to conduct an IEP meeting, the parents of a child with a disability have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time. For example, if the parents believe that the child is not progressing satisfactorily or that there is a problem with the child's current IEP, it would be appropriate for the parents to request an IEP meeting.

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The legislative history of Public Law 94-142 makes it clear that there should be as many meetings a year as any one child may need (121 Cong. Rec. S20428-29 (Nov. 19, 1975) (remarks of Senator Stafford)). Public agencies should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP meeting. For example, if the parents question the adequacy of services that are provided while their child is suspended for short periods of time, it would be appropriate to convene an IEP meeting.


In general, if either a parent or a public agency believes that a required component of the student's IEP should be changed, the public agency must conduct an IEP meeting if it believes that a change in the IEP may be necessary to ensure the provision of FAPE. If a parent requests an IEP meeting because the parent believes that a change is needed in the provision of FAPE to the child or the educational placement of the child, and the agency refuses to convene an IEP meeting to determine whether such a change is needed, the agency must provide written notice to the parents of the refusal, including an explanation of why the agency has determined that conducting the meeting is not necessary to ensure the provision of FAPE to the student.

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FINDINGS OF FACT:

The child whose education is the subject of this complaint is an 8th grade student with a disability. In a letter dated July 20, 2000, the child's parent requested that an IEP team meeting be held for her son to modify his IEP and change his placement. The child's parent requested that the IEP team meeting be held as soon as possible in July or early August. On July 25, 2000, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), directed the district to conduct an IEP team meeting to consider whether the child whose education is the subject of this complaint requires additional services because of the delay in providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) identified in complaint decision 00-014. On September 7, 2000, an IEP team meeting was conducted to review and revise the child's IEP and determine a placement. The IEP determined the child's placement would be at Vieau Elementary School. After the meeting the special education supervisor, parent, parent advocate, and Vieau Elementary School Principal determined that Vieau Elementary School was an inappropriate placement. On September 20, 2000, an IEP team meeting was conducted to review and revise the child's IEP and determine a placement. The IEP team determined that the child's IEP services would be delivered at Andrew Douglas Day Treatment Center with a projected date of implementation on September 26, 2000. On September 26, 2000, the child whose education is the subject of this complaint attended Andrew Douglas Day Treatment Center. The first day of school for students in the 2000-2001 school year was August 23, 2000. The child whose education is the subject of this complaint did not attend school for the first 23 days of the school year.

CONCLUSION:

The law requires that each child with a disability receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE includes special education and related services consistent with an IEP. The law requires a local educational agency (LEA) to hold IEP team meetings to review the child's IEP periodically, but not less than annually. The parents may request an IEP meeting at any time. An LEA should grant to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review and, if necessary, revise the child's IEP. If the LEA denies the parent request for an IEP meeting, the LEA must provide the parent with a notice of refusal.

In a letter dated July 20, 2000, the child's parent requested that an IEP team meeting be held for her son to modify his IEP and change his placement. On July 25, 2000, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), directed the LEA to conduct an IEP team meeting to consider whether the child whose education is the subject of this complaint requires additional services because of the delay in providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) identified in complaint decision 00-014. On September 7 and 20, 2000, IEP team meetings were conducted to review and revise the child's IEP and determine a placement with a projected date of implementation on September 26, 2000. The IEP team did not address whether the child required additional services because of a delay in providing FAPE. On September 26, 2000, the child whose education is the subject of this complaint attended Andrew Douglas Day Treatment Center. The first day of school for students in the 2000-2001 school year was August 23, 2000. The child whose education is the subject of this complaint did not attend school for the first 23 days of the school year. The LEA did not conduct an IEP team meeting in a timely manner or provide the parent with a notice of refusal following a July 20, 2000, parent request and the DPI's July 25, 2000, directive to conduct an IEP team meeting for the child whose education is the subject of this complaint. The complaint is substantiated.

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DIRECTIVE:

The Milwaukee Public Schools shall, within 15 days conduct an IEP team meeting and within 30 days of receipt of this report, submit to the department a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that the district:

  1. conducts an IEP team meeting to consider whether the child whose education is the subject of this complaint requires additional services because of the delay in providing FAPE; and
  2. responds to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review and, if necessary, revise a child's IEP in a timely manner.

The CAP shall include the activities the district will undertake to implement the directives, the personnel responsible for each activity, the date by which each activity will be completed, and the type of documentation that will be submitted to the department as evidence of completion of each activity. If a CAP requires the district to develop one or more products, the district may submit the product(s) as part of the corrective action plan. The CAP will be reviewed and the district will be informed if any revisions are required. The district will implement the CAP after it has been approved by the department.

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This concludes our investigation of this complaint. This letter is not intended, and should not be construed, to cover any other issues regarding compliance with the IDEA or Chapter 115, Wisconsin Statutes, which may exist and which are not specifically discussed herein. Under the Wisconsin public records law, 19.31-19.39, Wisconsin Statutes, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request.

signed MJT
10/30/00
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Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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For questions about this information, contact Patricia Williams (608) 267-3720