IDEA Complaint Decision 11-052

On December 19, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Nicolet Union High School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, in the spring of 2011, properly conducted a special education evaluation and properly responded to a parent request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

School districts are required under state and federal special education law to locate, identify, and evaluate all resident students with disabilities who have not graduated from high school. Each district must establish procedures for accepting and processing referrals. All referrals must be in writing and the district must accept and process all referrals submitted to the district. A parent may submit a special education referral to the school district. Upon receipt of a referral, the district must appoint an individualized education program (IEP) team, and the IEP team must conduct a review of existing data to determine what additional data, if any, are needed to complete the evaluation. If the IEP team determines additional data are required, within 15 days of receiving the referral, the district must send to the student’s parent a request for consent for additional testing. The student’s parent must be afforded an opportunity to participate in this review. In addition, this review must include not less than one regular education teacher, one special education teacher, and a local educational agency (LEA) representative. An IEP team meeting must be conducted to determine eligibility within 60 days after receiving parental consent for evaluation.

On January 4, 2011, the mother submitted a written referral for a special education evaluation, stating concerns that her son was having extreme difficulty adjusting to the school routine and structure, frequent need for disciplinary action, problems with peer interaction, and problems with academics. The areas of suspected disabilities considered were other health impairment (OHI) and emotional behavioral disability (EBD). The Notice of Receipt of Referral and Start of Initial Evaluation was sent to the mother on January 12, 2011. Consent was given by the mother on January 17, 2011, and received by the district on that same day. Input for the review of existing data was obtained from the required IEP team members. On March 16, 2011, which was within the 60-day time line, the IEP team met to determine eligibility and considered the criteria for both OHI and EBD. The IEP team determined the student did not meet eligibility criteria in either area. This determination was properly documented through completion of the eligibility checklists for each area of impairment. The district properly conducted a special education evaluation.

A parent has the right to an IEE at public expense if the parent disagrees with the district’s evaluation. Upon receiving a request for an IEE, a district must inform parents about where to obtain an IEE. The agency must also inform the parents of the district’s IEE criteria. The district must respond to the request for an IEE in a reasonable amount of time. The district must either provide the IEE at public expense or request a due process hearing to show its evaluation is appropriate.

The mother requested an IEE in writing on March 24, 2011. The district acknowledged the receipt of the IEE request in an e-mail dated March 31, 2011, and provided the mother with their criteria for IEE’s and a list of possible IEE Examiners. The mother did not pursue the completion of the IEE. The district properly responded to a parent request for an IEE.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. You may contact Teresa Goodier, Special Education Team, at teresa.goodier@dpi.wi.gov or (608) 267-2947 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 2/16/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/tag

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