IDEA Complaint Decision 05-023

On April 11, 2005, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Whitnall School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2004-2005 school year:

  • Properly responded to a parent's request for a special education evaluation of her child for speech and language and other health impairment;
  • Administered tests and other evaluation materials needed to determine whether the student is a child with an emotional behavioral disability; and
  • Properly responded during an April 2005 individualized education program (IEP) team meeting to the parent's concerns regarding her child's anxiety disorder.

The complainant alleges the criteria for speech and language and other health impairment were not considered at the April 6, 2005, IEP team meeting to determine eligibility for special education. In addition, the complainant alleges adequate testing to determine a speech and language impairment was not completed by the district. A referral form for special education completed by the parent and received by the district on January 20, 2005, lists specific learning disability, other health impairment, and speech and language as suspected areas of disability. In emails dated February 9, 2005, and March 18, 2005, the parent requested additional testing in speech and language, including the involvement of a speech and language pathologist in the testing. The district's evaluators, a school psychologist and a diagnostic teacher, considered this request and determined after working with the child that further testing in the area of speech and language was not needed.

Documentation in the April 6, 2005, IEP indicates the IEP team considered the impairments of specific learning disability and emotional behavioral disability when determining eligibility for special education and found no impairment. There is no documentation in the IEP that the IEP team considered a speech and language impairment or other health impairment when determining eligibility for special education. Since the filing of the complaint, the district held an IEP team meeting on May 2, 2005, to consider if the child is a child with other health impairment.

A parent has the right to request an assessment to determine whether a child is a child with a disability. A district must ensure a child is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability. In January 2005, the parent referred her child for an evaluation to determine if her child had a speech and language impairment. The district did not consider this impairment at the April 2005 IEP meeting. Within thirty days of receiving this decision, the district is directed to reconvene an IEP team meeting for the purpose of evaluating the child for a speech and language impairment and determining eligibility for special education.

The complainant alleges adequate testing to determine if the child has an emotional behavioral disability and is in need of special education was not completed by the district. Documentation in the IEP indicates areas to be evaluated included emotional, behavioral, social, memory, cognitive, and academic. The assessment conducted by the school psychologist and a diagnostic teacher consisted of an academic performance rating scale, a behavior rating scale and inventory, an intelligence test, a test of cognitive abilities, and interviews and observations of the student.

When identifying if a child has an emotional behavioral disability, the IEP team must rely on a variety of sources of information, including systematic observations of the child in a variety of educational settings and must have reviewed prior, documented interventions. Documentation in the April 2005 IEP includes diagnostic information from a variety of sources and a description of observations by classroom teachers and the diagnostician. The IEP team reviewed prior interventions including a referral to an intervention team and elements in a student plan such as providing structure, predictability, monitoring and support. The IEP team administered tests and other evaluation materials needed to determine whether the student is a child with an emotional behavioral disability.

The complainant alleges the district refused to consider her child's anxiety disorder as other health impairment at the April 6, 2005, IEP team meeting. However, the complainant acknowledges the IEP team discussed the negative impact of her child's anxiety disorder on his academic performance. Since filing the complaint, the district reconvened an IEP team meeting on May 2, 2005, for the purpose of determining if the child has an other health impairment. At the meeting, the child's anxiety disorder was discussed. The IEP team determined the child is not a child with other health impairment. The district has responded to the parent's concerns regarding her child's anxiety disorder.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 6/7/05
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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