IDEA Complaint Decision 02-002

On December 27, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Janesville. The issues are whether the district during an evaluation completed on September 4, 2001, failed to properly evaluate the complainant's child to determine whether she is eligible to receive special education by reason of being a child with autism or an other health impairment and failed to ensure that the parents participated in the eligibility determination during the 2000-2001 school year. This is the department's decision regarding the complaint.

On November 9, 2000, the complainants referred their child for an evaluation to determine whether the child has a disability and need for special education. On March 15, 2001 an IEP team, including the complainants, met to determine eligibility and placement. The IEP team concluded that the student is not a child with a disability and prepared an evaluation report of that determination. The report indicates that the student does not meet the eligibility criteria for either autism or other health impairment. The information from the additional tests and other evaluation materials portion of the report includes a review of medical reports, information provided by the parents, observations and interviews with the student and teacher, responses to the Australian Scale for Asperger's, and the Achenback Checklist. The team prepared the required report of recommendations when a child is not found to be a child with a disability. This included specific recommendations for expanding the existing 504 plan to include supports that would assist the student with transitioning to high school and functioning more consistently between school and home.

The complainants maintain that a meeting was held on April 19, 2001 regarding their daughter's education and that they were not invited. This was not an IEP team meeting under state or federal special education law and the district was not required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Chapter 115, Wisconsin Statutes to include the complainants in this meeting. As a result of mediation conducted in response to complainants' due process hearing request, the district agreed to re-open the IEP team evaluation process to consider additional information to be presented by the complainants. On May 10, 2001, an IEP team meeting which included the complainants was held to consider additional information from the complainants regarding eligibility for special education programming in the areas of autism and other health impairment. No conclusions were reached and another meeting was scheduled for May 16. The complainants cancelled this meeting. The district scheduled another meeting for August 6, 2001 but the complainants were not willing to meet at this time.

On August 13 the mother met with district staff to discuss the child's schedule and programming for the 2001-02 school year. At this time she requested a medical release from physical education and a modified school day for her child. The district agreed to this request if proper medical documentation was provided. The appropriate medical release forms and physicans' authorizations were provided by the mother. Once the forms were received and reviewed, the district requested the complainants consent to evaluate further under other health impairment. The mother signed the consent form.

On September 4 an IEP meeting was held to complete the evaluation process and determine initial eligibility for special education. It was determined that the complainant's child did not meet criteria for autism or other health impaired. The complainants were not in agreement with this decision. Based on letters, on materials submitted by the district, and on interviews with the complainant and district personnel, the department concludes that all information submitted by the complainants to the IEP team for consideration in the evaluation process was included in the reports and considered in the eligibility determination process. The team attempted to reach consensus, but the complainants disagreed with the eligibility determination reached by district staff. When consensus cannot be reached on an eligibility determination the district must provide notice to the parents of the team's decision. The notice of IEP team findings that the child was not a child with a disability was provided to the complainants. The district conducted its evaluation of the student consistent with required procedures and reached conclusions supported by pertinent documentation.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed 2/25/02 by SJP
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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