IDEA Complaint Decision 03-003

On January 22, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the period January 23, 2002, to January 22, 2003:

  • Considered the parent's concerns for her children's (Students N and D) education during individualized education program (IEP) team meetings;
  • Properly responded to the parent's requests for IEP team meetings and placement changes;
  • Developed the children's IEPs without affording the parent the opportunity to participate;
  • Included services in the students' IEPs determined by an IEP team; and
  • Properly provided special education transportation to the students beginning November 2000.

The parent attended all IEP team meetings for Student N held during the time period indicated in the complaint. Student N's IEP dated March 26, 2002, noted parent concerns about transition to middle school and the process of inclusion. The parent did not attend Student D's IEP team meeting on January 6, 2003. The district provided documentation to substantiate that the meeting was arranged for at a mutually agreed on time by telephone, followed by written notice sent with enough time for changes. Several telephone calls were made prior to the meeting as well as two on the day of the meeting to ensure parental participation. The parent was unable to attend due to a death in the family that was out of state, which the district was not aware of at the time of the meeting. The district offered to reconvene the IEP team ensuring parental participation. The parent declined. The district met requirements for including parents in this IEP team meeting.

The district also properly responded to the parent's request for an IEP review for both children during the course of this investigation. Meetings were scheduled and held on March 14, 2003, for both students with the parent in attendance. The district has met its obligation to consider the parent's concerns during the IEP team meetings for both students and responded to parent requests for meetings.

The district's process for documenting the IEP in writing involves using the current IEP and making notes on it during the actual IEP team meeting. The teacher writes the new IEP following the meeting with reviews by both the program support teacher and the IEP coordinator. The district tells the parent that if the document of the meeting does not accurately reflect what was determined by the team, the parents should contact the district to reconvene the IEP team to discuss the issues. The district plans to reconvene the IEP teams for Students D and N including the parent to verify written components of the IEPs dated March 14, 2003, to ensure the final documents accurately reflect what was discussed at the meetings. The district also acknowledged the need for improving communication between the teacher for Student N and the parent.

At an IEP team meeting dated September 27, 2000, for Student D, transportation was determined to no longer be a related service. The district provides regular transportation for students that live at least 2 miles from the school they attend. During the 2000-01 and 2001-02 school years, Student D attended a middle school that was less than two miles from his home. The parent made contact with the district at the end of the 2001-02 school year to inquire about regular transportation for Student D at the high school. Student D did qualify for regular transportation as he resided in excess of two miles from the high school. The parent and Student D were informed that a bus pass had been issued and was available at the high school office. At the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year, Student D failed to pick up the bus pass. The bus pass was reissued in January of 2003 and again made available in the office. At the March 14, 2003, IEP team meeting for Student D a regular education bus pass was handed to the parent.

The district reimbursed the parent for transportation for Student N during the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 school years. Student N was transported by his mother for the 2000-01 and 2001-02 school years up to and including April 10, 2002, when transportation was determined to no longer be a related service. The district has remained prepared to reimburse the parent for required transportation she provided and sent several contracts to the parent to sign during that time. No signed contracts were ever returned. At the March 14, 2003, IEP team meeting for Student N, the district agreed that the former process of calculating the transportation costs needed to be revised. The district will work with the parent to have the past transportation costs for Student N recalculated and reimbursed to the parent.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed by SJP 3/21/03
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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