IDEA Complaint Decision 03-054

On December 9, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Janesville. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, ensured that an individualized education program (IEP) team used assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant information to assist in determining whether the child is a child with a disability and properly responded to a parent's request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

An IEP team met on November 18, 2003, to determine a child's eligibility for special education. The IEP team included the parents, school psychologist, speech/language pathologist, school social worker, counselor, occupational therapist, school nurse, an outside consultant in the area of suspected disability, two regular education teachers as well as special education administrative personnel.

The information from the additional tests and other evaluation materials portion of the evaluation report includes a review of information provided by the parents and observations and individual reports from each IEP team participant. The IEP team concluded that the child is not a child with a disability and that the child's medical condition does not adversely affect her educational performance and prepared an evaluation report of that determination. Based on letters, on the evaluation report and other materials submitted by the district, and on interviews with the parent and district personnel, the department concludes that the IEP team used a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant information to assist in the eligibility determination process and reached conclusions supported by pertinent documentation.

The parents disagreed with the eligibility determination and submitted a written request dated November 17, 2003, for an independent educational evaluation (IEE) to be completed by an evaluator specified by the parents. The district, in a letter dated December 10, 2003, responded to the parents' request for an IEE and included a copy of district board policy regarding IEEs as well as a list of six evaluators. The district contacted the evaluator requested by the parents and although qualified, the evaluator declined to be placed on the list as she was unable to take on additional assessment responsibilities at the time.

Federal law ensures the parents' right to an evaluation at public expense if they disagree with an evaluation performed by the district. A district must provide to parents upon request for an IEE, information about where an IEE may be obtained and the district's policy for IEEs. The district met these requirements.

During a conversation with district staff on December 18, 2003, the parents rejected all six evaluators listed by the district. In a letter dated December 19, 2003, the district states that it remains prepared to pay for an independent educational evaluation, once a qualified evaluator is identified by the parents and that evaluator meets the qualifications outlined in district board policy.

In a letter to the district dated January 12, 2004, the parents selected an evaluator who was not on the district's list. The district responded on January 28, acknowledging the qualifications and credentials of the evaluator and expressed the district's agreement to work with the parents and the evaluator in getting the IEE completed. The district properly responded to a parent's request for an independent educational evaluation.

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

//signed CST 2/9/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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