On March 29, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the DC Everest School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, provided a free appropriate public education to a child with a disability in a timely manner after staff was notified the student was a resident of the district.
According to the complainant, the student moved into the district in June 2003 and began attending a day treatment program in July, 2003. Although the complainant maintains that the school was notified of the student's residence within the district in June, the school district contends that they were not notified until November 2003. The school district states that after they were notified in November, they requested and received the student's education records from the prior school district, and it was noted that his Individualized Education Plan (IEP) had expired in September 2003. The district acknowledges that it did not hold an IEP meeting and develop an IEP until April 14, 2004, when the student was removed from the treatment program and began attending a school within the district.
When the student moved into the district, the student should have been treated as a transfer student. The day treatment program the student attended does not have an education component that meets the statutory definition of a private school. Rather, the treatment program is designed to work with schools to coordinate educational services. Thus, even though the student attended a day treatment program, as the resident school district, DC Everest remained responsible for ensuring that the child received a free appropriate public education (FAPE). When a child transfers from one Wisconsin school district to another, there should be no interruption in the student's special education and related services. The school district must implement the IEP from the prior school district until it either formally adopts that IEP or develops its own IEP. If the school district cannot implement all of the IEP, it should provide services that approximate the IEP as closely as possible. However, if only close approximation is possible, an IEP meeting must be conducted within a short time after the pupil enrolls, normally within one week. (See Information Update Bulletin No. 00.10, Transfer Pupils with Disabilities.)
In this situation, the IEP had expired, and the district was obligated to hold an IEP meeting as soon as possible to develop a new IEP taking into account that the student was attending the treatment program. However, such a meeting was not held for several months.
Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district is directed to develop a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that when a child with a disability moves into the district from another district in Wisconsin, there is no interruption of special education or related services. The district must also conduct an IEP team meeting to determine whether additional services are required because of the delay that occurred in providing services to this student.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 5/19/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy