IDEA Complaint Decision 02-037

On June 11, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department's decision for that complaint. The issues are whether the district, in June 2002:

  • failed to include on the IEP team a representative of the local educational agency (LEA) who is knowledgeable about and authorized to commit the available resources of the LEA;
  • failed to properly notify the parent of a child with a disability of an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting;
  • failed to indicate the projected date for the beginning of the services in the IEP; and
  • in determining the special education placement for the child, failed to comply with the least restrictive environment (LRE) provisions relating to removal from the regular education classroom, including that placement decisions are made by IEP teams based on the student's needs.

On June 6, 2002, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the child's IEP and determine continuing placement. The following IEP team participants attended the meeting: the child's mother, an LEA representative, the special education teacher, a regular education teacher, the building principal, and the parent's advocate. Department staff interviewed the LEA representative who attended the IEP team meeting. The LEA representative included on the IEP team is knowledgeable about and authorized to commit the available resources of the LEA.

On May 31, 2002, the district notified the parent and her advocate of the date and time of the June 6 IEP team meeting in person at the child's school. The child's mother attended the June 6 IEP team meeting with her advocate. There is no record of the content of the oral notification of the IEP team meeting and district staff were not able to state that all required information was provided to the parent when she was notified of the meeting. The district maintains that the child's mother was provided a written notice for the IEP team meeting at the IEP team meeting. However, the notice provided the parent was misplaced during the meeting and the district did not keep a record of its efforts to notify the child's parent. The district's method of notifying a parent of IEP team meetings may be oral or written, or both, provided the notification contains the required information, and the district keeps a record of its efforts to notify the parents. The department directs the district to review, and revise if necessary, current procedures and methods for notifying parents of IEP team meetings and recording efforts to notify the parents. By August 30, 2002, these procedures and methods must be submitted to the department for review. By September 20, 2002, staff development activities will be conducted for LEA representatives, special education supervisors, leadership specialists and all other special education staff who notify parents of IEP team meetings of the procedures and methods for notifying parents of IEP team meetings and recording efforts to notify the parents. By September 30, 2002, the district must submit to the department a copy of the agenda for staff development activities, sign-in lists, handouts and a written assurance that all attended or a list of any not in attendance with a description of how they were informed of these procedures and methods.

During the June 6, 2002, meeting, the IEP team revised the child's IEP and determined the educational placement for her for the 2002-2003 school year, when she will move from her eighth grade placement to a high school. The revisions to the child's October 31, 2001, IEP include: an additional cover sheet; revised program summary pages describing the special education services, related services, supplementary aids and services, program modifications or supports; and the statement of the child's participation with non-disabled peers in regular education. The IEP also includes both a placement notice and a notice to inform the parent why her request for a specific high school was rejected.

The IEP cover sheet for the June 6, 2002, IEP team meeting incorrectly identifies the date of the meeting as June 6, 2001. The June 6, 2002, cover sheet and the revised program summary incorrectly state the beginning date of the IEP as October 31, 2001. This is the beginning date for the previous IEP which the team revised during the June 6 meeting. Additionally, in determining placement the IEP team concluded that the IEP would not be implemented until the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year on September 3, as indicated on the June 6, 2002, notice of placement. A required component of an IEP is a projected date for the beginning of services and modifications and the anticipated duration of those services and modifications. The child's IEP and placement notice are contradictory regarding the projected date for beginning services and the district should correct these technical errors.

On June 6, 2002, when the IEP team revised the child's IEP the child's present level of educational performance and annual goals were not changed. The present level of educational performance statement indicates that the child is working close to grade level and above, with the exception of math. It continues that she is "able to be successful in the regular math class with assistance of the ex. ed. [special education] teacher." In determining the child's placement the IEP team considered the district three-choice school selection form completed by the parent indicating her first and second choices as the same small community school. The three-choice school selection form was changed with the name of the small community school crossed out as the second choice and the name of another district high school apparently added by district staff. The IEP team determined that the child would attend the school added to the three-choice school selection form. The district explained why the IEP team refused the parent's request for the child to attend the small community school on an M-3 notice of response to an activity requested by a parent.

The child participated in regular education classes during the 2001-2002 school year. On June 6, 2002, the IEP team changed the amount of special education service from 6 hours and 20 minutes a week provided in the special education or regular education classroom to 20 hours a week to be provided in the special education classroom. The LEA representative reported to department staff during the investigation of this complaint that the change in services was needed to provide the child support to adjust to the large high school environment. The IEP does not contain a statement to this effect or other information supporting the change in the amount of service provided in the special education classroom.

On July 22, 2002, at an intake meeting at the small community school, the parent requested an IEP team meeting to review and revise her daughter's IEP and determine placement. Prior to the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year, an IEP team must review and revise the child's current IEP and determine placement based on the child's needs including determining whether the nature or severity of her disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. The revised IEP also must include a proper projected date for the beginning of the revised services and modifications and the anticipated duration of those services and modifications. The district must submit documentation of these child-specific corrective actions to the department by August 30, 2002.

On May 31, 2002, the district revised the consolidated corrective action plan (CCAP) regarding several complaints to ensure that the district follows required procedures related to determining educational placements for children with disabilities. Department staff will continue to work closely with the district to assist in its review, revision, and implementation of the amended placement CCAP, including verification of the efficacy of corrective actions through a self-assessment and accountability system developed in conjunction with the department.

This concludes our investigation of this complaint.

//signed 8/12/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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