IDEA Complaint Decision 02-040

On June 13, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Fond du Lac School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2001-2002 school year, failed to:

  • obtain informed parent consent before administering tests or other evaluation materials as part of reevaluating her three children;
  • provide the evaluation report to the parent prior to an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) team meeting;
  • inform the parents, at the beginning of an IEP team meeting to address the reevaluation, IEP, or placement of the children, of their right to additional time;
  • conduct individual IEP team meetings for each of her three children; and
  • include a regular education teacher at her children's IEP team meetings.

This complaint concerns the reevaluation of the parents' three children who were previously identified as having a disability and attended an early childhood program in the district. The district discussed, with each IEP team member including the complainant, and determined there was a need to conduct additional testing of the children to determine whether they continued to have a disability and to identify their current educational needs. The parents were involved in making this determination on January 9, 16, and 23, 2002, respectively for each child.

On February 25, 2002, the district sent the complainant written notice of its intent to reevaluate the children. The district provided the complainant written notice, dated February 25, 2002, of its intent to conduct additional tests and requested written consent for the testing. The complainant signed the consent for two of the children on February 25, 2002. For the third child, the complainant signed the consent, but the date it was signed was listed as, "1-2". The district informed the department that this consent was signed on January 23, 2002.

In conducting a reevaluation for a child, the district must first provide the parent with a notice of reevaluation, and then conduct a review of the existing evaluation data available for a child to determine whether additional tests and other evaluation materials are needed. A school district must obtain informed, written parental consent before administering tests or other evaluation materials to a child with a disability as part of a reevaluation, except that such consent need not be obtained if the district has taken reasonable measures to obtain such consent and the child's parents have failed to respond. While the district received signed consent for additional testing, the review of existing data took place before the complainant was notified of the reevaluation.

The Fond du Lac School district shall, within 30 days of receipt of this report, submit to the department a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that the district provides parents a notice of reevaluation prior to reviewing existing data on a child and obtains written, informed consent from the parent prior to administering assessment instruments.

The complainant maintains that the district failed to provide requested information prior to IEP team meetings. The district believed the requests were for draft copies of the IEP, which were not yet completed. On June 3, 2002, a teacher from the district sent the complainant an e-mail indicating that she did not have a completed IEP to give her prior to the meeting. On June 4, 2002, the complainant sent the teacher an e-mail stating that she still wanted a copy of "it". In a telephone conversation with the department the complainant stated that she was requesting draft copies of the IEPs.

The complainant requested copies of draft IEPs, not evaluation reports, as stated in the issue. Neither state nor federal law requires that districts develop draft IEPs. The district has complied with the requirements of IDEA in regard to this issue.

The complainant maintains that district staff did not inform her and the child's father at the beginning of the IEP team meeting of their right to additional time. The district responds that the parents were informed of their right to additional time and a copy of the evaluation reports at each IEP team meeting. A review of the children's IEPs shows that the boxes confirming that the parents were informed of these rights were checked. This right is also included in the Parent Rights brochure which was sent to the parents. The department concludes that the district did inform the parents at the beginning of the meeting of their right to additional time.

The complainant claims the district failed to conduct individual IEP team meetings for each child. Documentation from the district shows that, for the 2001-2002 school year, IEP team meetings for one child were held on January 23, 2002, and June 6, 2002; for the second child, January 9, 2002, and May 3, 2002; and for the third child, January 16, 2002, and May 15, 2002. The district has complied with the requirements of IDEA in regard to this issue.

The complainant alleges that the district conducted IEP team meetings without a regular education teacher present, except during the last meetings when placement was discussed. Federal and state special education law requires that, among others, a regular education teacher must be a member of the IEP team if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment. A kindergarten teacher was present at the last IEP team meeting for each child. The department concludes that all the required IEP team participants were in attendance at the last IEP team meetings.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/12/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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