On April 20, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS). This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the DHFS properly determined special education and related services to be provided to students with disabilities following their transfer in 2007 to Northern Wisconsin Center (NWC) from the Winnebago Mental Health Institute Services for Mentally Impaired Children Program (SMIC).
In preparing to close the SMIC program, DHFS transferred two students to the EXCEL program at NWC. One student transferred to the EXCEL program in early March 2007 and was discharged in late April to return to the students home community. The other student was transferred to the EXCEL program in late June and continues to reside there. NWC is an Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR). ICFs/MR are treatment programs which must meet extensive federal regulatory requirements.
The EXCEL program is designed to offer short-term residential programming of up to 90 days for youth who require and can benefit from a residential placement offering treatment services set forth in the individual program plan. The program is intended for youth having an immediate and severe need for such care, but is designed to return them to a less restrictive setting following a limited stay in the facility. Due to the immediate and severe needs of these youth and the intent to return the youth to a less restrictive setting relatively quickly, residents receive services in their individual program plan for much of the day and receive special education services established in an individualized education program (IEP) on a reduced schedule.
Shortly after their transfers to the EXCEL program, IEP teams met to review and revise the two students educational programs. The teams reviewed the IEPs which had been implemented at the SMIC program, as well as the individual program plans which had been developed to address the students treatment needs. In revising the IEPs, the IEP teams appropriately considered the students needs and the time needed to provide treatment services to address those needs, as well as on the students present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. The IEPs were revised based on each students individualized circumstances and educational needs. In deciding the special education and other services to be provided to the two students, the IEP teams followed applicable procedural requirements, applied appropriate standards, and reached determinations reasonably supported by student-specific data.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
//signed CST 8/20/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy