On March 22, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the East Troy School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2012-13 school year, properly conducted a special education evaluation and properly responded to a parent’s request to include additional participants in the individualized education program (IEP) team meeting.
Within 60 days after the district receives parental consent for administering tests or other assessments as part of a special education evaluation, a district must determine if a child is a child with a disability. There are three exceptions to the 60-day timeline; these include transfer students, failure of the parent to make the student available for the evaluation, and students being evaluated for a specific learning disability with mutual agreement with the parent to extend the timeline.
Upon completion of the administration of assessments and other evaluation measures, the district is responsible for appointing the required members of the IEP team to determine whether the child meets the eligibility criteria for one or more impairments and whether the child needs special education and related services. Required IEP team members include the parent; not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be participating in the regular education environment); at least one special education teacher who has recent training or experience related to the child’s known or suspected area of special education needs, or where appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child; and a representative of the local educational agency (LEA). At the discretion of the parent or the district, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate, may be included to participate in the IEP team meeting.
The IEP team must work toward consensus, but the district has the ultimate authority and responsibility to determine and provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). If the IEP team cannot reach consensus, the district must provide the parents with prior written notice of the district’s proposals or refusals, or both, regarding the child’s educational program, and the parents have the right to seek resolution of any disagreements by seeking alternate dispute resolution options such as mediation, filing an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) complaint and/or initiating an impartial due process hearing.
On October 10, 2012, the parent requested an initial special education evaluation for her child through an email to the district. On October 12, the notice of receipt of referral and start of initial evaluation was sent to the parent along with the procedural safeguards. Parental consent for the initial evaluation was received by the district on December 12, 2012 creating the 60-day timeline due date of February 10, 2013.
On January 17, 2013, the parent requested that the IEP team meeting to determine eligibility, originally scheduled for February 6, 2013 be postponed until the parent notified the district of a new date and time to meet the parent’s scheduling needs. The district responded to the parent request with a notice of response to an activity requested by a parent. In this notice, the district stated that on January 18, 2013, the district communicated with the parent their agreement with postponing the IEP team meeting until further notice from the parent.
On March 8, 2013, the IEP team met to determine eligibility for the child. This date exceeded the 60-day timeline of February 10, 2013. None of the three exceptions applied in this situation. Neither the district nor the parent has the authority to extend the timeline beyond the 60-day timeline unless one of the above noted exceptions apply. The district did not properly conduct a special education evaluation within the required 60-day timeline.
In the complaint, the parent alleged the district did not invite the child’s section 504 case manager and several other general education teachers that the parent had asked to be included on the IEP team. A parent may request certain staff members to attend an IEP team meeting, but the district ultimately has the authority to determine which staff members will attend. The district made arrangements for the requested staff members to attend the March 8, 2013, IEP team meeting, and they all attended the meeting. The district properly responded to a parent’s request to include additional participants in the IEP team meeting.
Within 30 days from the date of the decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan to ensure all special education evaluations are conducted timely. All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 5/20/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support