IDEA Complaint Decision 08-012

On February 13, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the West De Pere School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, properly determined whether a child has a specific learning disability (SLD).

On October 9, 2007, the parent made a referral for a special education evaluation because of the child’s reading and writing skill weaknesses. On November 29, 2007, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team met and determined the student was not a student with a disability under federal special education law. The parent believed the district failed to appropriately consider the student’s diagnosis of dyslexia when making its determination.

As part of its evaluation, the district reviewed existing data, including outside evaluation data and other information provided by the child’s parent, and administered a variety of assessment tools to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information. During the evaluation meeting, the IEP team discussed the findings and recommendations of the outside evaluator that concluded the student had dyslexia. The district included a summary of the results of both outside and district assessments in its evaluation report. Reasons why the student was not found eligible as a student with SLD were documented. All members of the IEP team, with the exception of the child’s parents, were in agreement with the conclusion.

State and federal special education law indicate SLD may include conditions such as dyslexia. During a special education evaluation, a district must consider information provided by the child’s parents, including outside evaluation data. However, the identification of dyslexia by an outside evaluator does not automatically qualify a student for special education services. An IEP team is required to apply state and federal criteria to determine whether a student has the impairment of SLD and, as a result, requires special education. The department concludes the district properly followed the required procedures and criteria and determined eligibility based on evidence the child does not meet the definition of a child with a disability under state and federal special education law.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 4/14/08
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