On July 27, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Lake Geneva School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2005-2006 school year:
- Properly determined a child has a specific learning disability (SLD) and whether the child continues to have a speech and language (S/L) impairment;
- Ensured that qualified staff evaluated the child's need for an FM system;
- Properly conducted IQ testing;
- Properly responded to the parent's requests for an independent educational evaluation (IEE); and
- Properly responded to the parent's request regarding obtaining her child’s special education records.
The parent alleges the district did not properly determine that her child does not have an impairment in the area of SLD and no longer has a S/L impairment. On October 19, 2005, the parent requested a special education evaluation for SLD. On January 10, 2006, the IEP team determined the child does not have a SLD, but continues to be eligible for S/L services. On April 6, 2006, the IEP team met to discuss additional testing for S/L impairment. On May 26, the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) team determined the child does not meet criteria for S/L impairment. A district must follow the required procedures, apply the required standards, and reach a determination that is reasonably supported by student-specific data. The district reviewed existing data, including information provided by the child’s parent, and administered a variety of assessment tools to gather functional and developmental information. The district provided a final evaluation report including individual reports for SLD and S/L. The department concludes the district properly followed the required procedures and determined eligibility based on evidence that the child does not meet the definition of a child with a disability for SLD and S/L.
The parent maintains the district did not ensure a qualified staff member evaluated her child’s need for an FM system. On April 25, 2006, the parent requested an FM system evaluation. On May 23 the district assigned a licensed teacher of deaf and hard of hearing to conduct the FM evaluation including an observation and historical review of the child’s records, which were incorporated into a final evaluation report. On May 26, the IEP team determined the child does not need an FM system. On June 14, the district requested the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WESPDHH) Outreach Team to conduct an FM system evaluation. Because in-school observation is necessary to determine the need for an FM system, the DPI Outreach school audiologist conducted an observation and evaluation on September 8. On September 21, the IEP team met to determine eligibility for S/L and then to discuss the results of the audiologist’s evaluation to determine the need for an FM system.
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are devices that solve specific listening problems created by a hearing loss which cannot be satisfactorily resolved with hearing aids alone. The most commonly used wearable ALD in schools is the FM system. The DPI suggests that districts include an audiologist in the process of evaluating a child’s candidacy for the instrument, selecting the instrument, and evaluating the performance of the instrument. Since the district obtained an evaluation from WESPDHH, no additional corrective action is required.
On November 13, 2005, the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children-IV (WISC-IV) was administered to the child as part of a SLD evaluation. Standardized tests must be administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of such tests. The producers of the WISC-IV state, “For any child of any age, it is important to have a testing environment that is relatively bland and free of distractions, both visual and auditory.” The parent maintains the test was not properly conducted because it was given near the music room, where noise prevented her child from performing to her ability. The school psychologist confirms the evaluation was conducted near the music room where intermittent noise was evident; she indicated the child did not show signs of distress or incomprehension during the testing session. To ensure the child’s scores were an accurate reflection of her ability, the school psychologist conducted a second comparable test in a quiet and non-distracting setting, which yielded scores identical to the first test.
On March 16 and May 30, 2006, the parent requested an IEE for a neuro-psychological evaluation because she did not agree with the district’s evaluation results from the November 2005, and April 2006 psychological tests. On April 6, an IEP team met to discuss a S/L reevaluation and additional psychological testing. The parent agreed to additional testing and the district indicated her request for an IEE would be considered following results of the testing. On April 25, the parent requested an FM system evaluation. On May 26, the IEP team reviewed the district evaluation results and determined the child does not meet the eligibility criteria for S/L and does not need an FM system. On June 5, the parent again requested an IEE by mail indicating the evaluation results did not accurately represent her child’s need for S/L services and an FM system. On June 14, the district made a written request for a comprehensive FM evaluation to the DPI WESPDHH Outreach Team. On September 21, the IEP team met to review the results of a new S/L assessment conducted by the district, a Central Auditory Processing evaluation conducted by Rush Medical Center, and the audiological information. The IEP team determined the child is eligible for S/L services and has a need for an FM system.
The district must provide to parents, upon request for an IEE, information about where an IEE may be obtained and the district criteria for IEEs. The district must either provide the IEE at public expense or request a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate. The department concludes the district did not provide the proper information to the parent after her request for an IEE for a neuro-psychological and S/L and FM system evaluation. Within 30 days of this decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan to ensure that parents are provided with the proper information about where an IEE may be obtained and the district criteria applicable for IEE requests, and either provide the IEE at public expense or request a due process to show that its evaluation is appropriate.
The parent maintains the district did not properly respond to her request for access to all of her child’s educational records. On July 19, the district stated the parent requested the psychology notes and test protocols, health and speech and language records, and the Walworth County Children with Disabilities Education Board (WCCDEB) student file. On the same day, the district mailed a copy of the child’s special education file to the parent. On July 28, after a mediation session, the special education director offered the parent an opportunity to review her child’s special education file to ensure that she received all of the information requested. On August 25, the parent reviewed the S/L and cumulative files which included the health file, and copies were made. On September 1, the parent met with the school psychologist and special education director to review the test protocols. The parent was invited to review the file at the WCCDEB office; the parent did not schedule a meeting (this file is a duplicate of the district’s special education file). The district provided the parent with copies of her child’s records and made other arrangements for her to inspect and review the records. This was accomplished without delay and no later than 45 days after the parent request, as required. The department determines the district was unaware of additional specific records the parent wanted, and therefore, they could not make copies.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 10/25/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy