IDEA Complaint Decision 01-017

On March 5, 2001, a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). 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 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. In investigating this complaint, department staff reviewed information submitted by the complainant, relevant education records of the child, and the district's response to the complaint. Department staff spoke with the district's compliance and monitoring director and a special education teacher.

===========================

ISSUE #1:

During the 2000-2001 school year, did the district fail to develop a current individualized education plan (IEP) for the child?

ISSUE #2:

During the 2000-2001 school year, did the district fail to convene an IEP team meeting for the child following a request for a meeting by the child's mother?

ISSUE #3:

During the 2000-2001 school year, did the district improperly place the child in ninth grade?

ISSUE #4:

During the 2000-2001 school year, did the district deny the child a free appropriate public education by failing to provide speech and language services?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

Section 115.76, Wisconsin Statutes
Definitions.

In this subchapter:

* * *

(7) "Free appropriate public education" means special education and related services that are provided at public expense and under public supervision and direction, meet the standards of the department, include an appropriate preschool, elementary or secondary school education and are provided in conformity with an individualized education program.

* * *

Section 115.77, Wisconsin Statutes
Local educational agency duties.

* * *

(1m) A local educational agency shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the division that it does all of the following:

* * *

(b) Makes available a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities as required by this subchapter and applicable state and federal law.

* * *

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

* * *

(lm) APPOINTMENT OF TEAM. The local educational agency shall appoint an individualized education program team for each child referred to it under 115.777.

* * *

(2) DUTIES OF TEAM. The individualized education program team shall do all of the following:

* * *

(b) Develop an individualized education program for the child under 115.787.
(c) Determine the special education placement for the child under 115.79.

* * *

Section 115.787, Wisconsin Statutes
Individualized education programs.

(1) REQUIREMENT THAT PROGRAM BE IN EFFECT. At the beginning of each school year, each local educational agency shall have in effect, for each child with a disability, an individualized education program.

* * *

 

PI 11.07, Wisconsin Administrative Code
Transfer pupils.

(1) DEFINITIONS. In this section "transfer pupil with a disability" means a child with a disability under the IDEA whose residence has changed from an LEA in this state to another LEA in this state or from a public agency in another state to an LEA in this state.

* * *

(3) TRANSFER PUPILS WITH DISABILITIES FROM OUTSIDE WISCONSIN.
(a) The purpose of this subsection is to permit an LEA to adopt the most recent evaluation and eligibility determination and IEP of a transfer pupil with a disability from a public agency in another state.
(b) When an LEA receives a transfer pupil with a disability from a public agency in another state, the LEA may provide special education and related services in accordance with the most recent IEP developed by the sending public agency until the LEA develops its own IEP or adopts the sending public agency's IEP.
(c) The LEA shall adopt the evaluation and the eligibility determination of the sending public agency or conduct a new evaluation and eligibility determination of the transfer pupil. If the LEA decides not to adopt the evaluation and eligibility determination of the sending public agency, the LEA shall initiate a special education referral of the child. The LEA shall complete the evaluation and develop an IEP and the placement in accordance with the requirements of subch. V of ch. 115, Stats., within 90 days of the date the child enrolls in the LEA. The LEA shall adopt the IEP of the sending public agency or develop a new IEP.

* * *

ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIAL INTERPRETATIONS:

34 CFR Part 300, Appendix A, Question 20

20. How frequently must a public agency conduct meetings to review, and, if appropriate, revise the IEP for each child with a disability?

* * *

A public agency also must ensure that an IEP is in effect for each child at the beginning of each school year (Sec. 300.342(a)). It may conduct IEP meetings at any time during the year. * * * Although the public agency is responsible for determining when it is necessary to conduct an IEP meeting, the parents of a child with a disability have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time.

* * *

The legislative history of Public Law 94-142 makes it clear that there should be as many meetings a year as any one child may need (121 Cong. Rec. S20428-29 (Nov. 19, 1975) (remarks of Senator Stafford)). Public agencies should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP meeting.

* * *

If a parent requests an IEP meeting because the parent believes that a change is needed in the provision of FAPE to the child or the educational placement of the child, and the agency refuses to convene an IEP meeting to determine whether such a change is needed, the agency must provide written notice to the parents of the refusal, including an explanation of why the agency has determined that conducting the meeting is not necessary to ensure the provision of FAPE to the student.

* * *

FINDINGS OF FACT:

During the 1998-1999 school year, the student attended MPS and received special education services in the 9th grade. He then moved to Minnesota and attended Minneapolis Public Schools during the 1999-2000 school year. While there, he received special education services in the 11th grade.

At the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year, the student transferred back to MPS from Minneapolis Public Schools. On August 23, 2001, MPS' central services office assigned the student to 10th grade at Hamilton High School. An IEP team did not determine the student's placement.

MPS informed the department that Hamilton High School staff requested the student's records from Minneapolis Public Schools on August 28, September 1, and October 19, 2000. According to MPS, Hamilton High School staff did not receive the records from Minneapolis until late February or early March 2001.

MPS acknowledged in its response to the department that an IEP team meeting was not held for the student in a timely manner to develop an IEP or to adopt the IEP from Minneapolis Public Schools because it was waiting for the student's transfer records. MPS also acknowledged that it did not hold an IEP team meeting despite several requests from the complainants for an IEP team meeting to develop an IEP and determine placement.

MPS provided speech/language (S/L) services to the student during the 2000-2001 school year, based upon MPS records of the S/L services it provided to the child during the 1998-1999 school year. The services were not provided pursuant to a current IEP for the student.

Since the complaint was filed, MPS has taken corrective actions with regard to the student. On March 20, 2001, an IEP team meeting was held to develop an IEP for the student and to determine placement.

CONCLUSION:

A local educational agency (LEA) has a responsibility to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability. An LEA meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child in part by providing special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services in conformity with a proper IEP. When an LEA receives a transfer student with a disability from a public agency in another state, the LEA may provide special education and related services in accordance with the most recent IEP developed by the sending public agency until the LEA develops its own IEP or adopts the sending public agency's IEP. An LEA should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP team meeting.

Here, MPS provided special education services to the child without a proper IEP in effect. As acknowledged by the district, the department concludes that MPS failed to comply with legal requirements by failing to adopt the student's IEP from Minneapolis Public Schools and by failing to hold an IEP team meeting to develop an IEP for the student, despite requests by the parents for a meeting.

On March 20, 2001, MPS took corrective actions by convening an IEP team meeting to develop an IEP for the student and to determine placement.

_______________

DIRECTIVE:

The Milwaukee Public Schools shall, within 30 days of receipt of this report, submit to the department a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that:

  1. MPS provides the department with a copy of the IEP and placement offer that was developed for the student on March 20, 2001.
  2. an IEP team meeting is held to determine whether the student needs additional educational services to compensate for the period of time when an IEP was not in effect.
  3. MPS special education supervisors and staff are aware of the requirements of PI 11.07, Wisconsin Administrative Code. Because the department ordered similar corrective actions in an IDEA complaint in 2000, department staff will provide additional technical assistance to MPS to ensure that corrective actions appropriately address this directive.
  4. MPS special education supervisors and staff are aware that an IEP team meeting should be convened upon the reasonable request of a parent of a child with a disability.

The CAP shall include the activities the district will undertake to implement the directives, the personnel responsible for each activity, the date by which each activity will be completed, and the type of documentation that will be submitted to the department as evidence of completion of each activity. If a CAP requires the district to develop one or more products, the district may submit the product(s) as part of the corrective action plan. The CAP will be reviewed and the district will be informed if any revisions are required. The district will implement the CAP after the department has approved it.

This concludes our investigation of this complaint. 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, 19.31-19.39, Wisconsin Statutes, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request.

signed MJT
4/25/01

Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

smp

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