IDEA Complaint Decision 01-079

On October 23, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Lake Country School District. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2001-2002 school year, failed to properly determine an educational placement for a child with a disability and safeguard the confidentiality of a childs education records by releasing personally identifiable information in a school board meeting notice and during a board meeting.

The child whose education is the subject of this complaint is a five-year-old child with a disability who has been enrolled by her parents in a community preschool.  An individualized education program (IEP) developed on January 8, 2001, provides that the child will receive two 30-minute speech and language therapy sessions each week in the speech and language room. The IEP also requires two weekly physical therapy sessions totaling sixty minutes. In March 2001, the complainants contacted the district to request early kindergarten admission for their child. On August 9, the complainants received a letter from the board indicating that their child was not eligible for early admission and denying their request. On August 28, district staff met with the complainants to discuss their request for early kindergarten admission. The complainants were informed that according to district policy, early entrance into kindergarten is predicated on advanced levels of developmental and intellectual performance and their child was not eligible for early admission.

The childs IEP requires itinerant speech and language therapy two times per week for 30 minutes each session in the therapy room with the related service of physical therapy two times per week for sixty minutes total. The IEP team concluded that these are the services the child needs in order to receive a free appropriate public education. The district is permitted to provide itinerant instruction to preschoolers and has offered a placement based on the educational needs of the child. In response to the parents concerns, on September 11, the district initiated, but has not completed, a reevaluation of the child and could reconsider the amount and type of special education service the child needs.

In early September, the complainants requested that at the next closed session meeting of the Lake Country School Board it consider their request to pay tuition for a four-year-old kindergarten program in a nearby district. On September 12, the Lake Country School District regular school board meeting agenda included as an action item "Tuition Request-(Parents name)." This item also was printed in the local newspaper under public notices. A school district is required to safeguard the confidentiality of personally identifiable information in a students education records. The name of the students parents or other family members is defined as personally identifiable information under federal records law. Generally, personally identifiable information cannot be disclosed without parental consent. The district was not permitted to disclose that the childs parents were requesting the school district to pay tuition in the meeting notice. The district is directed to submit, within 30 days of receiving this decision, a plan of correction to ensure the protection of personally identifiable information in student records.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 12/21/01
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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