IDEA Complaint Decision 01-030

On March 30, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. The issue in this investigation is whether, during the 2000-2001 school year, the IEP team improperly determined that the child does not need speech/language and sign language services. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint.

An IEP team meeting was held on March 23, 2001, for the purpose of determining continuing eligibility for special education, to review/revise the IEP, and to determine placement. On February 12 and March 12, 2001, the district sent written meeting notices and spoke to the complainant about the IEP team meeting. The complainant did not attend the March 23 IEP team meeting.

At that meeting, the IEP team determined that the child meets the eligibility criteria for cognitive disability and that the child does not meet the criteria for speech and language impairment. The evaluation report states that the child does not meet eligibility criteria for speech and language impairment because "[t]his student does have relative weaknesses in the speech and language area, but overall functioning is commensurate with the students measured intellectual level." Although the IEP contains objectives related to communication, it does not include speech and language services for the child.

The IEP does not include sign language services for the child. According to the speech/language pathologist, the IEP team considered sign language services and determined that the child does not need such services.

When the IEP team concluded that the child does not have a speech and language impairment because her speech and language development is commensurate with her measured intellectual abilities, it applied improper criteria for considering whether the child had a speech and language disability. The department recently addressed the issue of speech and language eligibility determinations by the district in two other complaint decisions, 00-011 and 00-037, and concluded that the district applied improper criteria in making the determinations.

The department directed the district to submit a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that district staff apply the correct analysis when determining if a child has a speech and language impairment and if the child needs speech and language services. It appears that the corrective actions undertaken by the district to date have not been sufficient to remedy this issue. Therefore, the department directs the district to review and amend its current CAP regarding speech and language to include additional corrective activities to address this issue.

In addition, within ten days of receiving this report, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine whether the child is a child with a speech and language disability, to consider whether the child needs speech and language services, and to consider whether the child requires additional services due to the past application of improper speech and language eligibility criteria. The district must submit documentation of the IEP team meeting to the department as evidence of completion of this corrective action.

//signed 5/14/01
Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/smp

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