On October 22, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Arrowhead School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district notified the parent of his son's educational placement within the required time limit after receiving a special education referral in April 2002 and whether the district had an individualized education program (IEP) in effect for the student at the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year.
On April 16, 2002, the complainant made a formal request for "special education consideration" for his son, who would be returning to the district following hospitalization. The complainant indicated his son would be released on his 18th birthday, XXXXX, and believed his son would need special support and a "formal plan" in order for him to graduate from school in the spring of 2002. On April 23, 2002, the director of special education for the district spoke to the complainant concerning his request for special education. She explained the process including the need for an evaluation. The director reported that the complainant indicated that his son would not want to participate in an evaluation at school.
A district has an obligation to appoint an individualized education program (IEP) team for each child referred to it. In this case, the complainant's request for special education consideration was a special education referral. The district did not appoint an IEP team to consider existing data and to determine if additional tests or evaluation materials were needed in response to the parent's April 16, 2002, referral because the district believed the student would not consent. Because of this, the student did not have an IEP in effect for the first several days of the 2002-2003 school year. The district held meetings with the complainant and his son to develop a plan of regular education services to assist him with coursework during the spring of 2002.
The district received a subsequent referral on July 8, 2002, and appointed an IEP team. The team determined that additional tests were necessary and the student signed consent. Following the evaluation, an IEP team meeting was held on September 6, 2002, and the student signed consent for placement on that same day. The parent sent a letter to the district stating he was satisfied with the current program and placement. Though the district erred in not appointing an IEP team and having a special education program in place by the start of the 2002-2003 school year, the district later appointed a team and developed an IEP for this student. Therefore, the district is not required to take any additional corrective actions.
This concludes our review of this complaint, (which we are closing).
//signed CST 12/20/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy