IDEA Complaint Decision 01-096

On December 14, 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 department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district failed to:
  • implement, during second semester of the 2000-2001 school year, provisions of an individualized education program (IEP) for a child with a disability related to academic instruction;
  • obtain parental consent prior to reevaluating a child with a disability during second semester of the 2000-2001 school year;
  • properly notify the parents of an IEP team meeting held in November 2001;
  • include as IEP team participants during the November 2001 IEP team meeting individuals who had conducted independent educational evaluations (IEEs) of the child;
  • include the parents in the development of their child's educational program and the determination of the student's placement during a November 2001 IEP team meeting; and
  • timely provide the parents with a copy of their child's IEP and ensure staff responsible for implementing the child's IEP are informed of their specific responsibilities following the November 2001 IEP team meeting.

On April 16, 2001, the parents contacted the district's director of student services about their concerns that the child's special education teacher was not implementing provisions of the IEP related to academic instruction. The parents stated the teacher had admitted this to them during a parent-teacher conference on April 5, 2001. The director of student services contacted the teacher about this issue, and the teacher informed the director that the student's IEP was being fully implemented, including provisions related to academic instruction. In response to the parent's concern, per district practice, the director also contacted administrators and staff at the child's school and advised them that the child's IEP must be fully implemented. During the investigation of this complaint, district staff informed the department that, midway through the second semester of the 2000-2001 school year, the child's special education teacher began providing academic instruction to the child utilizing vocational methods and settings in the classroom. District staff stated that the academic provisions in the IEP, such as those related to functional reading and writing skills and math, continued to be fully implemented in the child's classroom throughout the semester. The department concludes that the district implemented the child's IEP, including provisions related to academic instruction, during the second semester of the 2000-2001 school year.

On April 9, 2001, the child's special education teachers referred the child for a reevaluation. On May 2, 2001, the IEP team, including the parents, met and determined that additional testing was necessary. The IEP team agreed that the testing should begin quickly to enable completion before the end of the school year. On May 3, 2001, the district sent the parents a Notice and Request for Consent for Additional Testing form. On May 7, 2001, district staff began the testing. The parents signed the consent form on May 8th, and it was received at the high school on May 9th and at the administrative office on May 17, 2001. Informed parental consent for reevaluation must be made in writing prior to testing. Here, the district began testing before receiving written consent from the parents. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department to ensure that special education staff is aware that written consent must be received from parents before conducting testing as part of an evaluation or reevaluation.

On May 20, 2001, the parents requested an independent education evaluation (IEE) of the child. The district agreed and paid for three independent evaluators to test the child. On September 28, 2001, an IEP team meeting was held for the purposes of evaluation, IEP review and revision, and placement. The meeting lasted 3½ hours but was not completed, so the IEP team reconvened on October 5, 2001. The three independent evaluators attended both IEP team meetings, as did the parents and their advocate. The independent evaluators presented their evaluation reports at the meetings and made recommendations regarding the child's education program. The IEP team decided that a MAPS process would be completed for the child.

On November 9, 2001, the district sent the parents written notice of an IEP team meeting scheduled for November 13th to conduct the MAPS meeting with a trained, private facilitator. The parents attended the meeting. Another IEP team meeting was scheduled for November 26, 2001, to complete the MAPS process and to review and revise the child's IEP and determine placement. The district sent written notice of the meeting to the parents on November 19, 2001. On November 21, 2001, the parents sent an electronic mail message to the director of student services asking if the IEP team meeting was scheduled for November 26th. The director sent the parents an e-mail on November 22nd confirming the IEP team meeting date. The department concludes that the district properly notified the parents of the November IEP team meetings.

The district did not invite the independent evaluators to the November IEP team meetings. The district had already covered the cost of the independent evaluators attending IEP team meetings in September and October to present their evaluation reports and make recommendations regarding the child's education program. The district was not required to invite and pay for the independent evaluators to attend the November IEP team meetings. Parents, at their discretion, may ask independent evaluators to participate in IEP team meetings as individuals with knowledge or special expertise about the child.

The parents and their advocate attended and participated in the November 26th IEP team meeting. The child's mother left the meeting prior to its conclusion. The director of student services asked the child's father and advocate whether they would like to reconvene the meeting at another date, but they declined to do so. The child's father and the parents' advocate stayed for the entire meeting and participated in the discussion and determination regarding placement. The department concludes that the district included the parents in the development of the child's IEP and determination of placement.

The Determination and Notice of Placement states that the child's placement would be implemented on December 3, 2001. The district mailed the IEP and Notice of Placement to the parents on December 10, 2001. The department concludes that the district failed to timely provide a copy of the child's IEP and placement to the parents. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department a proposed corrective action plan to ensure that special education staff is aware that parents must be provided with a copy of a child's IEP and placement notice before the date of implementation.

During the investigation of this complaint, district staff informed the department that the child's special education and regular education teachers were given a copy of the IEP on December 10, 2001. In addition, during the first two weeks in December, special education staff discussed specific IEP responsibilities with regular education staff who were not at the IEP team meeting. The department concludes that the district did not inform staff of their specific responsibilities under the IEP by the time of its implementation on December 3, 2001. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department a proposed corrective action plan to ensure that the district informs special and regular education staff of their responsibilities for implementing children's IEPs by the date of implementation of the IEPs.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 2/11/02 Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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