On August 27 and September 13, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District. The department held the investigation of the complaint in abeyance until September 25, 2001, when it received an Order of Dismissal of the hearing from the Division of Hearings and Appeals. This is the departments decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether the district:
- failed to provide proper notice to the parent of its refusal to retain the child; and
- failed to schedule an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting in a timely manner following the parents requests in August 2001.
On May 23, 2001, the district held an IEP team meeting to consider providing extended school year services to the child. At that meeting, the parent requested that the district retain the child in the third grade for the 2001-2002 school year. A school district generally has the authority to make promotion/retention decisions for all students, including special education students, by applying its promotion/retention policy. Here, the parent raised the issue of retention at the IEP team meeting because he believed it affected his childs special education program. The IEP team engaged in limited discussion about the parents request and did not reach a decision at the meeting.
At the end of the 2000-2001 school year, the parent received the childs report card that indicated the child was promoted to fourth grade for the next school year. The parent did not receive any other written notice from the district regarding his May 23 IEP team meeting request to retain the child. A local educational agency (LEA) must provide the parents with prior written notice of the LEAs proposals or refusals, or both, regarding the childs educational program.
The department concludes that the district did not provide the parent with proper written notice explaining why it refused the parents request to retain the child. Within 30 days of receipt of this decision, the district must submit to the department for review a draft memo to LEA representatives regarding the legal requirement that the district provides parents with prior written notice of its proposals or refusals regarding a childs educational program.
The parent also alleges that the district failed to schedule an IEP team meeting in a timely manner following his requests in August 2001. The law requires a school district to hold IEP team meetings periodically to review a childs IEP but not less than annually. Parents may request an IEP meeting at any time. A school district should respond to any reasonable parent request for an IEP team meeting.
The parent sent the district a letter on August 7, 2001, in which he refers to a phone call he had recently made to the district concerning retaining the child in the third grade. The parent did not request an IEP team meeting in the August 7 letter. On August 23, 2001, the parent sent the district another letter asking for an IEP team meeting to discuss his childs placement for the upcoming school year. In response to the parents request, the district held IEP meetings on September 4 and 5, 2001, and the IEP team determined that the child would be moved from fourth grade back to third grade. The department concludes that the district properly responded to the parents request for an IEP team meeting by holding IEP team meetings on September 4 and 5.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy