IDEA Complaint Decision 11-049

On December 5, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are addressed below.

Did the local educational agency (LEA), during the 2011-12 school year, properly change the placement for a student with a disability?

On June 16, 2011, an annual individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP and determine placement for the following school year. The student’s parent attended the meeting. The IEP team determined the student would receive special education services six hours a day in a special education classroom. The June 16, 2011, notice of placement indicates these services would be received at the child’s current school.

On September 1, 2011, the student was enrolled in two fine arts vocational education (FAVE) classes in regular education classrooms. The student was removed from the special education environment and placed two hours a day in the regular education environment. It is the school’s practice that all students have two FAVE classes.

In Wisconsin, an IEP team determines the special education placement for a child with a disability. Removing the student from the special education environment and placing him in a regular education environment constituted a change in placement. No IEP team meeting was conducted in September 2011, and the student’s placement was changed without conducting an IEP team meeting.

On December 9, 2011, an IEP team meeting for the student was held to review and revise the student’s IEP and determine placement. The student’s parents and a parent advocate attended the meeting. The team determined the student would receive special education services six hours a day in a special education classroom. On February 13, 2012, the district is conducting an IEP team meeting for this student. The LEA is directed to notify the parent and determine at the February 13 IEP team meeting if the student should be provided compensatory services because the amount of special education services were improperly reduced between September 1 and December 9, 2011. The LEA must submit to the department a copy of the IEP by February 24, 2012. The LEA is in the process of implementing a previously developed corrective action plan to ensure staff understand the requirements regarding changing a student’s placement.

Did the LEA in April 2011, properly conduct a reevaluation?

A LEA must ensure a reevaluation of each child with a disability is conducted if the district determines the educational or related services needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, warrant a reevaluation, or if the child’s parent or teacher requests a reevaluation. Each public agency must ensure the child is assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities. In evaluating each child with a disability the evaluation must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified. A reevaluation may occur not more than once a year, unless the parent and the public agency agree otherwise and must occur at least once every three years, unless the parent and the public agency agree a reevaluation is unnecessary.

On April 28, 2011, the LEA conducted an IEP team meeting to conduct an evaluation including determination of eligibility, review and revise the student’s IEP, develop an annual IEP, and determine placement. The student’s mother and father attended the IEP team meeting. The IEP team assessed the student in all areas related to the student’s suspected disability. The IEP team completed and included the student’s IEP eligibility checklist for cognitive disability, emotional behavioral disability, and other health impairment. The LEA properly conducted a reevaluation.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, and no more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint. You may contact Janice Duff, Special Education Team, at (414) 227-1845 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 1/31/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jfd

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