IDEA Complaint Decision 11-037

On September 26, 2011, 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 issues are whether the district, beginning in January 2011:

  • Properly responded to a request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting;
  • Properly developed an IEP for a child with a disability;
  • Properly provided the parent with a notice of placement;
  • Properly included required participants in the IEP team meeting; and
  • Properly considered information provided by the child’s parent.

The district developed an initial IEP for the student on January 4, 2011, and placed the student in a three year-old kindergarten program for speech and language services. On September 20, 2011, the IEP team determined the student’s continuing eligibility for special education, determined continuing placement, and developed an annual IEP for the student. On September 27, 2011, the IEP team met to revise the student’s transportation services.

Properly Responded to a Request for an IEP Team Meeting

A parent may request an IEP team meeting at any time, and a district may grant any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review and, if necessary, revise the child’s IEP. A district must take steps to ensure one or both of the parents of a child are present at an IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. The district must notify the parents of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to attend and must schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. If the child’s parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation. If the district denies the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting, the district must provide the parent with a notice of refusal, including an explanation of why the agency has determined that conducting the meeting is not necessary.

The parent requested an IEP team meeting in early April 2011. The district responded by contacting the parent and offering to convene an IEP team meeting in mid-April. The parent notified the district that she did not wish to proceed with an IEP team meeting at that time. By letter, dated June 14, 2011, the parent made another request for an IEP team meeting. The district responded to the parent by letter on June 29, 2011, and requested that the parent contact the district to schedule an IEP team meeting. The parent then informed the district that the child had been accepted into the placement of the parent’s choice for the 2011-12 school year, and that the parent wanted the IEP team to convene at the beginning of the school year. The IEP team, including the parent, met in September 2011. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.

Properly Developed an IEP for a Child with a Disability
Properly Considered Information Provided by the Child’s Parent

On January 4, 2011, the IEP team determined initial eligibility for special education, developed an initial IEP, and determined initial placement. In developing each child’s IEP, the IEP team must consider the strengths of the child, the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of the child, the results of the initial evaluation or most recent evaluation of the child, and the academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child. The IEP team must also consider special factors, which includes the communication needs of the child. At the meeting, the team considered the child’s strengths, including the child’s interactive and leadership skills. The team documented the parent’s concerns regarding communication. Further, the team considered the child’s academic, developmental, and functional needs. When the IEP team considered special factors, the team identified the student’s communication needs, and the team established specialized design instruction in the area of speech sound production for the student. The team properly developed the student’s IEP at the January 4, 2011, IEP team meeting.

A local educational agency (LEA) must ensure a reevaluation of each child with a disability is conducted if the LEA determines that the educational or related services needs warrant a reevaluation, or if the child’s parent, or teacher requests a reevaluation. On September 20, 2011, the IEP team met to conduct a reevaluation; to review and revise the student’s IEP; to develop an annual IEP; and to determine continuing placement. In conducting an annual review, the IEP team must, among other things, consider information about the student provided by the parents. The parent alleges that the district did not review existing data from an outside neuropsychological evaluation report from March 2011. At the September 20, 2011, IEP team meeting, the district documented the parent’s input and information provided at the IEP team meeting, including the results of the neuropsychological evaluation. Concerns of the parent were considered, and the IEP team determined that the student met eligibility criteria for significant developmental delay, determined that the student continued to meet eligibility criteria for speech and language impairment, and added specially designed instruction in preacademic skills to the student’s special education services. The district properly considered information provided by the child’s parent and properly developed the student’s IEP at the September 20, 2011, IEP team meeting.

Properly Provided the Parent with a Notice of Placement

The parent alleges that she was not notified of the student’s speech and language placement, which began on February 14, 2011. The district provided the parent the notice of placement on January 4, 2011, which indicated an IEP implementation date of February 14, 2011. Additionally, the parent gave consent for the student to receive special education services on January 4, 2011. The district properly provided the parent with a notice of placement.

Properly Included Required Participants in the IEP Team Meeting

A district must ensure the IEP team for each student with a disability includes the student’s parent, at least one regular education teacher of the student (if the student is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment), at least one special education teacher who has recent training or experience related to the child’s known or suspected area of special education needs, or where appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child, and an LEA representative. In the case of a child who was previously served under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, an invitation to the initial IEP team meeting must, at the request of the parent, be sent to the Part C service coordinator or other representatives of the Part C system to assist with the smooth transition of services.

The parent alleges that the district did not invite a Part C representative to the January 4, 2011, IEP team meeting. The district invited a Part C representative to the January 4, 2011, initial eligibility IEP team meeting, but the Part C representative did not attend the meeting. The district properly invited required participants in the January 4, 2011, IEP team meeting.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. You may contact Allison A. Markoski, Special Education Team, at (608) 266-3126 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 11/22/2011
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/aam

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