IDEA Complaint Decision 01-094

On December 20, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The issue in this complaint is whether the district, by refusing to enroll a child from November 9, 2001, to January 14, 2002, failed to provide a free appropriate public education to a child with a disability residing in the district. This is the department's decision for that complaint. The decision is based on documents provided by the complainant and parent and interviews with district staff. The district did not provide documents to the department prior to completion of the investigation.

On February 9, 2000, a district individualized education program (IEP) team determined the child was other health impaired and had a need for special education. The team developed an IEP for the child and determined placement with a projected date of implementation on February 21, 2000. On February 9, 2000, the child's mother signed the parent consent/permission for initial placement form indicating she did not give her consent for placement. According to district records, the child was offered services in the other health impairment program, but his behavior was much improved at the time and the parent declined special education placement. The child completed the school year in the regular education program at the middle school.

When the 2001-2002 school year began, the child attended a residential care center. The district did not place the child in this program. On October 31, 2001, the child left the care center. On or about November 9, 2001, the child's mother went to the district central services office to enroll the child in school and requested a special education placement. On or about December 21, 2001, the child's mother was informed that the child would be assigned to a named school beginning January 3, 2002. On January 2, 2002, the child's mother was informed that the child was not assigned to the named school and a different school assignment would be made. On January 7, 2002, a conference was held at a different middle school. On January 14, 2002, the child began attending school. On February 7, 2002, an IEP team determined the child was a child with a disability, and developed an IEP and placement for the child. The child's mother was present at the IEP team meeting and signed consent for initial placement.

On February 9, 2000, an IEP team determined the child was a child with a disability but the child's mother did not give consent for placement of her child. In November 2001 when the child's mother attempted to enroll her child in a special education placement, the district was required to immediately enroll the student and promptly convene an IEP team meeting to develop an IEP and determine a placement for the child. The child did not begin attending school until January 14, 2002. On February 7, 2002, an IEP team determined the child continued to be a child with a disability, and developed an IEP and placement for the child. The IEP team did not consider whether the child required additional services due to the lapse in education. The district must reconvene an IEP team meeting to determine if the child needs additional services to compensate for the period when no educational placement was available to the child. The district will send the department documentation of that IEP team meeting by March 8, 2002. The district is implementing a consolidated corrective action plan (CCAP) regarding several complaints to ensure that the district follows required procedures related to determining educational placements for children with disabilities. Department staff will continue to work closely with the district to assist in its review, revision, and implementation of the placement CCAP.

This concludes our investigation of this complaint.

//signed 2/18/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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