On November 13, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Waukesha School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning in December 2012, properly responded to a parent’s request for a special education evaluation.
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 written procedures for accepting and processing referrals and provide information and in-service opportunities to its entire licensed staff to familiarize them with the district’s referral procedures. A parent may submit a special education referral to the school district. When a parent requests an evaluation a district must inform the parent of the right to make a referral and how to make the referral. Referrals must be in writing, include the name of the child, and the reasons why the person believes that the child is a child with a disability. Federal and state law allows parents to make written referrals via electronic mail if the district makes that option available. If the district makes the option of electronic mail referrals available to parents it should be included in the district’s written procedures for accepting and processing referrals. The district in this case permits referrals through email.
On December 26, 2012, January 27, 2013, and May 10, 2013, the parent e-mailed district staff asking the student be evaluated for special education. District staff responded to the parent through conferences, e-mails, and phone calls; however the parent was not informed of the district’s referral procedures and a special education evaluation was not initiated. On November 14, 2013, the referral was initiated and a special education evaluation is being conducted.
Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district must develop proposed corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure when a parent make a referral for a special education, district referral procedures are followed and a special education evaluation is conducted. The CAP must also include how the district will provide information and ongoing in-service opportunities to all licensed staff to familiarize them with the district’s referral procedures. Within 10 days of the student’s eligibility determination, the district must send the determination of eligibility and need for special education report to the department. If the child is eligible for special education, the IEP team must determine compensatory services for the student due to the delay in evaluation. If applicable, the district must submit documentation of the amount of compensatory services determined and when they were provided to the department.
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 1/10/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support