On June 11, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Sun Prairie Area School District. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2000-2001 school year, failed to properly evaluate a student for the disability of other health impairment.
The complainant alleges that, during the evaluation of her child, the district failed to administer tests in accordance with testing protocols. In addition, the complainant questions whether the district conducted appropriate tests and whether additional testing is needed. Based upon evidence submitted by the district, the department concludes that each of the students evaluators is fully certified in his or her area of expertise, that each evaluator understood the testing procedures and instructions, and that each evaluator administered the tests in accordance with published instructions. In addition, the department concludes that each evaluator conducted appropriate tests as part of the evaluation. Further, the district has agreed to the complainants request for an independent educational evaluation of the student.
The complainant also alleges that, during the IEP team meeting held to evaluate the student, the local education agency representative improperly informed the IEP team that it did not need to reach consensus and that the determination regarding disability would be reached by majority vote. It is not appropriate to make IEP decisions based upon a majority "vote." The IEP team should work toward consensus, but consensus is not always possible. If the team cannot reach consensus, the school district has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the child receives FAPE, that a decision is made regarding the childs appropriate education program, and that the parents receive notice of the decision.
In its response, the district indicated to the department that the IEP team was unable to reach consensus. The district determined that the student did not meet eligibility criteria for the disability of other health impairment, and the complainant was notified of the determination. Nevertheless, the district has informed the complainant that it will reconvene the IEP team to reconsider whether the student meets disability eligibility criteria.
The complainant also alleges that, when district staff referred the student to a program for at-risk youth, district staff should have also referred the student for a special education evaluation and should have notified her of the right to request an evaluation. The student was referred to the at-risk program because of his failure to complete homework and his attitude problems. District staff did not reasonably believe that the student had a disability and, thus, were not required by special education law to refer him for a special education evaluation. In addition, state and federal special education laws do not require that the district notify the complainant of her right to request a special education evaluation when the student was referred to the at-risk youth program.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy