On December 9, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district properly responded to a parent's requests, between June and November 2003, for a special education evaluation of her child.
On June 10, 2003, the child's mother sent an email message to the school principal requesting an IEP for her son stating that she believed the child had a learning disability. The principal replied stating that the following fall the concern would be discussed with the child's teachers and the Pupil Services Team (PST) committee. In its response to the complaint, the district acknowledges that on June 10, 2003, the last day of school, the principal received an email message from the child's mother requesting an individualized education program (IEP) meeting. On October 2, 2003, a PST committee discussed the student's educational needs.
A Notice of Receipt of Referral and Start of Initial Evaluation documents that a referral made by the child's mother was received by the school psychologist on October 17, 2003. On December 18, 2003, an IEP team meeting was held to evaluate the child to determine eligibility at which time the child was found to have a learning disability and a need for special education. On January 15, 2004, an IEP team meeting was held to develop an IEP and determine placement.
Each district must establish written procedures for accepting and processing referrals. The referral procedures must address referrals from school staff, parents, and others in the community. Pre-referral interventions may not delay the district's accepting and processing special education referrals. In addition, the district's procedures cannot require a referring person to obtain the permission or approval of others, such as a PST committee, before accepting a referral. A district may not delay initiation of an evaluation pending receipt of such approval, and it must ensure that evaluations and placement decisions are completed within 90 days following receipt of referral. A district may seek an extension of the 90-day time limit, first from the parent and then from the department, if the parent does not agree to an extension for child-specific reasons. The district did not complete the IEP process within the required time nor seek an extension from the parent or from the department. The district was required to complete the process by September 15, 2003. Although the district did not meet this requirement, it completed the process and began providing special education to this child on January 16, 2004.
Within thirty days of receiving this decision, the district must submit to the department proposed corrective action to ensure that procedures do not require a referring person to obtain the permission or approval of others, and to ensure that evaluations and reevaluations are completed within the 90-day time limit or the district seeks an extension of the 90-day time limit, first from the parent and then from the department if the parent does not agree to an extension for child-specific reasons. In addition, the district is directed to convene an IEP team meeting to determine if the child needs additional services due to the delay in the child initially receiving services. The department will work with the district to ensure that its referral procedures are consistent with requirements.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 2/3/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy