IDEA Complaint Decision 01-002

On January 4, 2001, a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. 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 the letter of complaint, portions of the child's records relating to the complaint, statements submitted by individuals having knowledge of facts in the complaint and the response to the complaint submitted by the district.

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ISSUE:

Did the district fail to schedule an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting in January 2001 at a time and place mutually agreed to by the district and the child's parents?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

Section 115.77, Wisconsin Statutes
Local educational agency duties.

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(1m) A local educational agency shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the division that it does all of the following:

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(b) Makes available a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities as required by this subchapter and applicable state and federal law.

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Section 115.787, Wisconsin Statutes
Individualized education programs.

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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.

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34 CFR 300.345 Parent participation.

(a) Each public agency shall take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of the child with a disability are present at each meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate, including--
(1) Notifying parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend; and
(2) Scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place.

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(c) If neither parent can attend, the public agency shall use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls.

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FINDINGS OF FACT:

The youth whose education is the subject of this complaint is a child with a disability who resides in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. On April 6, 2000, the district convened an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting to review the youth's special education program. The team revised the child's IEP, which was to be in effect through January 3, 2001. On November 20, 2000, the district contacted the parent to arrange an IEP team meeting to review the IEP revised on April 6. The parent agreed to meet on December 18, 2000, and the district sent the parent a written invitation for that meeting date. The December 18, 2000, meeting was cancelled due to a snowstorm but was rescheduled to January 3, 2001, in order to review and revise the IEP prior to its ending date. The parent agreed to the January 3 meeting date and on December 21 the district sent the parent a written invitation to the meeting.

During the morning of January 3, 2001, both the parent and a parent advocate called the district to ask that the meeting be rescheduled. Because the April 6, 2000, IEP was effective only through January 3, 2001, the district concluded that it must proceed with the meeting. When the meeting convened, district staff called the parent to ask if she would participate by telephone. The parent agreed to participate by speakerphone and during the meeting participated in discussions relating to her child's special education program. The youth's IEP was revised by the team and incorporated parent contributions. The parent advocate also attended a portion of the meeting. The district also scheduled another IEP team meeting for January 23, 2001, and has sent the parent a written invitation to this meeting.

CONCLUSION:

A local educational agency (LEA) must provide each child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE). An LEA meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child in part by providing special education and related services in conformity with a current IEP. An LEA must convene an IEP team to review a child's IEP periodically, but at least annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved. An LEA must take steps to ensure that the parents of a child with a disability are present or offered the opportunity to participate at each meeting required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. An LEA must schedule such a meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. If a parent does not attend an IEP team meeting, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls.

On January 3, 2001, the district convened an IEP team meeting. The meeting was required in order to review the child's IEP prior to its ending date of January 3. The parent had been notified of this meeting and had agreed to participate on that date. Although the parent requested on January 3 that the meeting be rescheduled, the district appropriately proceeded with the January 3 IEP team meeting to avoid creating a lapse in the student's IEP. The parent did not attend the meeting, but she did participate in the meeting by speakerphone. Further, the district scheduled another meeting on January 23 to reexamine any issues relating to the IEP. The district correctly implemented the law related to the issue in this complaint.

 

This concludes our investigation of this complaint, and we are closing this complaint investigation. 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/SJP
1/26/01

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