On October 26, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Oconomowoc Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are identified and addressed below.
- Whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, properly determined that a specific student is a child with a disability.
The complainant maintains that he has information indicating that an individualized education program (IEP) team participant stated during a reevaluation meeting that the team would have to modify evaluation results in order for a student to continue to receive special education services. Department staff interviewed the IEP team participant who disclosed that the statement had been made during the meeting. She indicated that ultimately the team decided that the student continues to have a specific learning disability and that she supports this decision. Her concern was that during the meeting the individual who made the statement had confused the criteria that apply during a reevaluation of a student for specific learning disabilities. She believes the parents were troubled by the statement.
Documents for this evaluation provided by the district include a participant summary of findings submitted by the student's learning disabilities teacher. The teacher also provided the team with results of tests she had conducted. The team completed a worksheet recommended by the department for determining continuing eligibility for specific learning disabilities. All IEP team participants signed the form indicating their agreement that the student is a child with a specific learning disability. The district properly determined that the student continues to need special education as a result of specific learning disabilities.
- Whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, properly involved required staff in a review of existing information for three specific students.
As part of an evaluation or reevaluation of a child, the individualized education program team must review existing evaluation data on the child to determine whether additional testing is needed. The complainant alleges that, contrary to documentation in the students' files, the responsible staff member did not actually consult with all district IEP team participants regarding the review of existing data for the three students. Department staff reviewed documents provided by the district related to this issue and interviewed district staff. The department's review of this issue revealed no facts to support the allegation. The department concludes that the district properly involved required staff in a review of existing information for the three students.
- Whether the district properly notified the parents of two specific students regarding who would attend individualized education program (IEP) team meetings in May 2004.
A district must notify parents of the purpose, time, and location of IEP team meetings and who is expected to attend. Written invitations were sent to the parents of these two children notifying them that IEP team meetings were scheduled to be held in May 2004. The principal of the school the children attend participated in the meetings but was not listed on the written invitations. The district has a practice of not including this principal on meeting invitations, but of having the principal attend the meetings when the principal is available. When the principal attends, the district IEP team representative asks the parents whether they agree to have the principal at the meeting. The district representative for these meetings confirmed that it is her practice to discuss the principal's attendance with the parents at the beginning of the meeting. It is permissible for a district to ask a parent at a meeting whether they agree for additional people to attend an IEP team meeting. If the parent agrees, the district should document that the parents were informed of the change and agreed to proceed with the meeting. There is no documentation that this occurred at these meetings. The district will ensure that all staff who act as district IEP team representatives during IEP team meetings receive written information explaining this requirement and, by January 31, 2005, provide the department with documentation for this activity.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed 12/22/04 by SJP
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy