IDEA Complaint Decision 07-056

On August 6, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Random Lake. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues were whether the district, during the spring of 2007, properly provided individualized education program (IEP) team decisions and a copy of the IEP team evaluation report to the parent and whether the district properly provided the parent with the opportunity to certify in writing whether the evaluation report reflected the parent’s conclusion regarding specific learning disability eligibility.

The district uses a computerized system to keep track of timelines. The system automatically dates notices and other IEP forms prior to printing with the date the notice is printed. All required IEP documents are completed using the computerized system. The standard practice in the district is to print IEP team documents the day they are completed. If documentation is completed prior to 2:00 P.M. it goes out in the afternoon mail; otherwise it goes out in the morning mail the following day. The special education secretary reported applying these standard practices to all regular IEP documents sent to the complainant, including the evaluation report, IEP, and placement notice dated May 11, 2007.

In her complaint the parent states that on July 24, 2007, she was provided a copy of the student’s file which did not include IEP team notices related to the evaluation and IEP developed during the winter and spring of 2007. The district reported the parent requested a copy of the student’s full special education file following an April 2, 2007, IEP team meeting. The district agreed to make the copies at no charge to the parent and the parent agreed to pick them up at the district office on Friday April 6, 2007. The parent did not pick up the files on that date. The special education secretary put the copies in an envelope and locked the envelope in the file cabinet with the student’s special education records. No additional information was added to the envelope after April 6. The parent was given the records when she came to pick them up on July 24. IEP team documents completed following the parent’s April records request were not included, since they had not yet been completed. On May 11, the parent had been sent copies of all documents not included in the previously copied packet. After receiving the complaint acknowledgement, the district provided another copy of the student’s IEP records including those which had been sent to the parent on May 11. The district provided copies of all notices, IEP decisions, and a copy of the IEP team evaluation report to the parent. In light of events leading up to this complaint, the district has begun sending all correspondence to the complainant by registered mail and will continue to do so.

When a student is evaluated for a specific learning disability, each IEP team member must certify in writing whether the report reflects the member’s conclusion. If it does not reflect the member’s conclusion, the member submits a separate statement presenting his or her conclusions. The district uses a variation of department Form ER-2 to document these requirements. The contents of the ER-2 form were reviewed at an IEP team meeting prior to making the eligibility decision and were individually presented for signature to IEP team members following the meeting in which the eligibility decision was made. The ER-2 form was included in the evaluation report that was sent to the parent on May 11 and includes all IEP team member signatures except the parent’s as well as a dissenting statement from two district IEP team members. The district secretary sent a copy of the form to the parent for signature, but did not receive a signed copy back from the parent. The federal Office of Special Education Programs has previously clarified district staff are required to sign the form and submit dissenting statements if they disagree with the IEP team eligibility decision; however parents are not required to sign the form or submit a dissenting statement if they disagree with the decision. The district provided the parent with an opportunity to certify in writing whether the evaluation report reflected the parent’s conclusion regarding specific learning disability eligibility. Since receipt of the complaint, the superintendent has met with the parent to discuss the parent’s concerns with the eligibility decision. The superintendent has also provided her with another opportunity to sign the ER-2 and submit a dissenting statement.

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

//signed CST 9/27/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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