IDEA Complaint Decision 99-043

On June 21, 1999 (letter dated June 21, 1999), a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public School District. This complaint alleges a violation of special education law regarding the implementation of programs for children with disabilities.

Pursuant to 34 CFR 300.660-662 of the regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and ss. 115.762(3)(g) and 115.90(1), Wis. Stats., the Department of Public Instruction investigated this complaint. In investigating a complaint, the department reviews a district's compliance with state and federal requirements. During this investigation, department staff reviewed written statements and the child's educational records. In addition, department staff interviewed the special education supervisor.

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ISSUE #1:

Did the district fail to inform the parent of the purpose of the IEP meeting prior to the June 16, 1999, IEP team meeting?

ISSUE #2:

Did the IEP team determine the child's need for ESY services?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

34 CFR 300.343 Meetings.

(a) General. Each public agency is responsible for initiating and conducting meetings for the purpose of developing, reviewing, and revising the IEP of a child with a disability¿ * * *

34 CFR 300.345 Parent Participation.

(a) Public agency responsibility¿general. Each public agency shall take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of the child with a disability are present at each meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate, including--
(1) Notifying parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend; and * * *
(b) Information provided to the parents. (1) The notice under paragraph (a) (1) of this section must --
(i) indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and who will be in attendance.

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Wisconsin Statutes, Section 115.78 Individualized education program team; timeline.

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(1m) APPOINTMENT OF TEAM. The local educational agency shall appoint an individualized education program team for each child referred to it under s. 115.777. * * *
(2) DUTIES OF TEAM. The individualized education program team shall do all of the following:

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(6) Develop an individualized education program for the child under s. 115.787.

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ADMINISTRATIVE & JUDICIAL INTERPRETATIONS:

DPI Information Update Bulletin 96.01 (March 1996)

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4. Who decides whether a child requires extended school year services in order to receive a free appropriate public education?


The participants in a meeting to develop the child's IEP¿must consider, as appropriate, whether a child needs extended school year services in order to receive a free appropriate public education.

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FINDINGS OF FACT:

The child whose education is the subject of this investigation is a child with a disability. During the 1998-99 school year, he resided and attended school in the Milwaukee Public Schools district.

On March 25, 1999, a complaint was filed against the Milwaukee Public Schools concerning special education and related services provided to the child. On May 24, 1999, the department issued a decision finding a violation of special education law. The decision required MPS to hold an IEP team meeting for the purpose of determining whether the child needed additional education services to compensate for the period from January 6 to March 30, 1999, when MPS provided education to the child for half days.

An invitation to a meeting of the IEP team was sent to the parent on June 11, 1999. On the form, the principal noted that "resolution of parent concerns" was the purpose of the meeting scheduled June 16, 1999. Further, district staff explained the purpose of the meeting to the parent on three separate occasions prior to the IEP team meeting. In her discussions with the parent on June 4 and 7, 1999, the principal stated that the IEP team meeting would address the concerns the parent shared with the advocate and options for the child's education, one of which was compensatory services. The special education supervisor called the mother on June 11, 1999, to review the purpose of the meeting.

Before attending the meeting, district staff drafted documents to guide the discussion at the meeting. The documents reflected various options that district staff considered appropriate and reasonable, but the district did not make decisions regarding the provision of services before the IEP team met on June 16, 1999.

During the June 16, 1999, IEP team meeting, the IEP team discussed whether compensatory services were required to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child. The parent attended the meeting. The team decided that the child did not need compensatory services to receive a FAPE.

CONCLUSION:

Districts are required to notify parents of an IEP team meeting early enough to ensure that they have an opportunity to attend the meeting. The notice must include the purpose of the IEP team meeting.

Here, the district notified the parent in writing of the purpose of the June 16, 1999, IEP team meeting prior to the meeting. As stated on the notice, the purpose of the meeting was "resolution of parent concerns." The three phone calls from district staff on June 4, 7, and 11, 1999, gave the parent additional information regarding the purpose of the June 16, 1999, IEP team meeting. The complaint is not substantiated with respect to issue #1.

An LEA must appoint an IEP team for each child referred for special education services. The duties of an IEP team include developing, reviewing and if necessary, revising, the child's IEP. The child's IEP must be reviewed at least annually. The participants in an IEP team meeting must consider, as necessary to provide FAPE, whether a child needs ESY services.

On June 16, 1999, the district held a meeting to review and revise, if necessary, the IEP for the child. Proposals drafted by district staff were discussed at the meeting. The IEP team determined at the meeting that ESY services were not required to provide FAPE to the child. The complaint is not substantiated with respect to issue #2.

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This concludes our investigation of this complaint, and we are closing this complaint investigation. This letter is not intended, and should not be construed, to cover any other issues regarding compliance with the IDEA or Chapter 115, Wisconsin Statutes, which may exist and which are not specifically discussed herein. Under the Wisconsin public records law, ss. 19.31-19.39, Wisconsin Statutes, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request.

signed JSP
8/20/99
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Juanita S. Pawlisch, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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