IDEA Complaint Decision 01-075

On October 15, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Verona Area School District. The issues in this investigation are whether the district failed to respond in a timely manner to the parents request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting for her child, and whether the district failed to provide the parents copies of her childs special education records. This is the departments decision for that complaint.

The complainants child attended Verona High School as an open enrollment student for the 2000-2001 school year and returned to her district of residence for the 2001-2002 school year. An evaluation for special education was completed and the student was determined to be a child with a disability at an IEP team meeting held January 16, 2001. Another IEP team meeting was held on January 25, 2001, in which the students IEP was developed and special education placement was determined.

The complainant maintains that on April 19, 2001, she sent an e-mail to the district requesting an IEP team meeting to address her daughters difficulties leading to her credit deficiency, and that an IEP team meeting was never scheduled. The complainant further alleges that the district failed to provide educational records in a timely manner, as required by law.

In regard to the complainants allegation that a request for an IEP team meeting was not honored, the district sent the department copies of numerous e-mails sent between the complainant and the district. The district had received, and responded to, communications from the complainant in regard to scheduling an IEP team meeting at a time when her childs therapist could attend. The students case manager reported that she was waiting for further direction from the mother in regard to a time when the therapist could attend an IEP team meeting. An e-mail dated March 29, 2001, from the case manager to the parent stated, "please let me know what new dates you can find for us with (therapists name)." Another e-mail sent April 2, 2001, from the case manager also inquired about a date for an IEP team meeting. On April 18, 2001, the complainant sent an e-mail to her childs case manager stating, "I am not sure how to proceed at present. Perhaps we should just set up a meeting at Verona." In response, the case manager e-mailed the parent asking, "Are you saying that you want to have a meeting here instead of with (students) counselor? Let me know what you decide to do." An e-mail response from the parent, dated April 19, 2001, stated, "At this point, perhaps it is best to just hold an iep and bring closure and recommendations for her to continue school for next year. What are your thoughts?" The district received no other communications from the parent in regard to holding an IEP team meeting. Although it may be unclear whether the parent was requesting an IEP team meeting based on these e-mails, the district had a responsibility to either schedule an IEP team meeting, or get a clarification from the parent. The district erred in regard to this issue.

Materials were also received by the department in regard to the issue of the districts failure to provide educational records in a timely manner. On August 22, 2001, a permission to obtain all school related records was sent to the Verona Area School District from the students current school. The district acknowledges that it did not send educational records, including special education records, until September 20, 2001. To correct this error the district sent a memo on October 30, 2001, to all district secretaries, counselors, school psychologists, and principals explaining the legal requirements for sending educational records within five days of receiving a request for records from the new school of attendance. The district also updated their process for receiving requests for records. The department received a copy of this memo on October 31, 2001. No other corrective action is required for this issue.

The district is directed to submit a corrective action plan within 30 days of the date of this decision to clarify and ensure that district staff and building administrators understand their responsibilities when a parent may be requesting an IEP team meeting.

This concludes our investigation of this complaint.

//signed 12/13/01
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/kh

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