IDEA Complaint Decision 01-032

On April 16, and May 25, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The issues in this complaint are whether the district failed to properly determine the placement of a child with a disability; failed to respond properly to the parents request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting; failed to schedule an IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed on time; and failed to provide occupational therapy services consistent with a childs IEP, between March 21 and April 14, 2001. This is the departments decision for that complaint.

On March 21, 2001, an IEP team determined eligibility for special education, developed an IEP, and determined placement for the child. The team discussed the childs placement including the childs needs and the specific school at which services would be provided. The discussion included concerns regarding changing the childs schools so close to the end of this school year and schools available to provide the services included in the childs IEP. The childs mother requested additional time to consider placement. At the end of the meeting, the childs mother was provided a copy of the IEP with the notice of placement. The notice of placement states that the IEP would be implemented at the school the child was currently attending, with a projected date of implementation of March 21, 2001. The childs mother was not provided additional time to consider placement for her son. If the parents of the child or the local education agency (LEA) staff determine at any point during the process of placement of the child that additional time is needed to permit meaningful parental participation, the LEA must provide additional time. The LEA did not properly determine the placement for the child when it failed to provide the parent additional time.

On March 23, 2001, the childs mother requested in writing and with a phone call to the special education supervisor that an IEP team meeting be scheduled to consider the placement for her son. On March 26, 2001, the special education supervisor responded informing the parent that her letter requesting an IEP team meeting to consider placement had been forwarded to the supervisor of the MPS Office of Compliance and Monitoring. If a parent requests an IEP team meeting because the parent believes that a change is needed in the educational placement of the child, and the district refuses to convene an IEP team meeting, the district 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. The district did not schedule an IEP team meeting or provide the parent written notice of the refusal to convene an IEP team meeting. The district must submit a plan within 30 days to ensure that these requirements are met.

During the week of April 23, 2001, the childs mother contacted her sons special education teacher and requested an IEP team meeting to consider the childs placement and the need for a special education aide to assist her son. The special education teacher started to schedule an IEP team meeting to be held during the school day. The childs mother wanted a meeting scheduled later in the afternoon after she was off work. On May 3, 2001, the childs mother informed the special education teacher by telephone that she did not want an IEP team meeting scheduled because the teacher was unable to schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and was told by the special education supervisor that no other building placements were available. On April 27, 2001, the department issued the decision for complaint #01-019 regarding the same child whose education is the subject of this complaint. The department determined that the district did not schedule the March 21, 2001, IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed on time because it would not schedule a meeting on any day other than Wednesday afternoon. A corrective action plan (CAP) in complaint #01-019 to insure that the district schedules IEP team meetings consistent with this requirement is due, but to date has not been received by the Department. The CAP must be submitted within ten days of the date on this letter.

The March 21, 2001, IEP includes the related services of transportation daily and occupational therapy consult 30 minutes two times a month. The childs special education teacher and the childs mother understood that the child would be receiving direct occupational therapy services. A school district must ensure that all services specified in a childs IEP are provided and that the services are written in a manner understandable to all parties concerned. On April 26, 2001, an occupational therapist consulted with the childs special education teacher but provided no direct service to the child. Between March 23, 2001, and April 26, 2001, the district did not provide any occupational therapy services. The IEP does not describe the services to be provided to the child in a manner understandable to all parties.

The district will conduct an IEP team meeting, at a mutually agreed to time, for this student within 10 days of receipt of this decision to consider additional services which may be required due to the lapse in services and to clarify the nature of the occupational therapy services to be provided. The IEP team also will consider the childs placement if the parent or district request that placement for the child be considered. The district will, within 30 days of receipt of this decision, submit to the department a plan to ensure that the district provides this child, and all children with disabilities, the related services outlined in their IEPs and describes related services in a manner understandable to all involved.

This concludes our investigation of this complaint.

//signed MJT 6/5/01
Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jfd

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