On September 30, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department's decision for that complaint. The issue is whether the district properly responded to a parent's referral of her child in June 2004 for a special education evaluation.
On June 9, 2004, the child's mother attended a district administrative hearing to consider disciplinary action for an eight-year-old child attending an MPS elementary school. The child's mother states that on June 11 she gave an office worker at the school a letter requesting that her son be evaluated for special education. On June 14 the child's mother met with an MPS school psychologist to discuss concerns regarding her son and requested to sign a form granting permission for the psychologist to work with her son. The child's mother signed the "Parent Consent for Psychological Services" form given to her by the psychologist. The district in its response to this complaint indicates that it treated the parent's meeting with the psychologist as a request for the psychologist to work with the child, not as a request for a special education evaluation, and the district has no record of a written June 11 special education referral.
On June 17 the child's mother met with a district student services program administrator, discussed the central office hearing, and told the program administrator that she had gone to the child's elementary school and initiated an individualized educational program evaluation for the child. The statement is supported by a letter dated June 23 from the district student services program administrator to the parent. Although the school psychologist may not have understood that the parent was requesting a special education evaluation, the district program administrator was aware of the parent's request on June 17, 2004. The department finds that the child's mother did refer the child for a special education evaluation in June 2004.
When a district receives a referral for a child, it must appoint an individualized education program (IEP) team to evaluate the child. The IEP team must complete its evaluation, develop an IEP for the child, and notify the parent of the child's placement within 90 days of receipt of the referral, unless the parent agrees to an extension or the department grants one. The district did not respond properly to the parent's June request.
On October 8, 2004, the district initiated a special education evaluation of the student. An IEP team meeting is scheduled to be held November 30, 2004. If the child is found to be a child with a disability in need of special education services the IEP team must also determine whether the child requires additional services because of the delay in conducting an IEP team evaluation. The district must provide the department with a copy of the IEP team determination within 15 days following completion of the evaluation.
The district is in the process of distributing to all building local education agency representatives, special education providers, school psychologists, building coordinators, special education leadership liaisons, special education supervisors, and student services program administrators the "IEP Team Procedural Handbook" revised October 2004. Section I of this handbook informs staff of procedures to follow to ensure that the district properly responds to a referral for a special education evaluation. A copy of this handbook with a written assurance that all noted staff were informed of these procedures and requirements must be submitted to the department no later than December 3, 2004.
This concludes our investigation of this complaint.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy