IDEA Complaint Decision 10-053

On July 12, 2010 (form dated July 8, 2010), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, properly informed the parent about the school district's referral and evaluation procedures.

A school district must identify, locate, and evaluate all resident students with disabilities who are in need of special education and related services. Each district must establish written procedures for accepting and processing referrals for special education evaluations, and a district must annually inform parents and persons required to make referrals about the district’s special education referral procedures. Licensed staff who reasonably believes a child has a disability must refer the child for a special education evaluation.

During the 2009-2010 school year, four collaborative support team meetings were held to discuss district staff concerns regarding the child’s attendance, missing assignments, failing grades, behavior, and medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, in December 2009, the child’s parent met with a licensed district staff member and requested her son be evaluated because of a disability. While the staff member acted in good faith attempting to clarify the child’s medication issues, he failed to properly inform the parent about the school district's referral and evaluation procedures. The licensed staff member interviewed during the complaint investigation was aware of child find obligations; however, he stated he did not refer the child even though he believed the child may need special education services. On May 20, following several behavioral incidents, a Milwaukee County Special Services consultant referred the child for a special education evaluation. Following receipt of the special education referral, the district initiated and completed a special education evaluation of the student. On July 8, 2010, an individualized education program (IEP) team, including the parent and the Milwaukee County Special Services consultant, determined the student was a child with a disability.

The district annually publishes the required Child Find notice in the local newspaper and has written procedures for accepting and processing special education referrals. The district staff member interviewed during the complaint investigation is aware of child find obligations and the district’s referral procedures. However, in this case, the district staff member failed to properly inform the parent about the school district's referral and evaluation procedures and did not refer the child even though he believed the child may need special education services.

Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department. The proposed corrective action plan must ensure all district staff properly respond to a parent’s request for an evaluation and all licensed staff, who reasonably believe a student has a disability, refer the student for a special education evaluation. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine whether compensatory services are required because of the delay in the evaluation, and must submit a copy of the revised IEP to the department within 45 days from the date of this decision.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 9/10/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jfd

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