IDEA Complaint Decision 99-057

On October 15, 1999 (letter undated), a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against the Waupun School District. This complaint alleges a violation of special education law regarding the implementation of programs for children with disabilities.

Pursuant to 34 CFR 300.660-662 of the regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and ss. 115.762(3)(g) and 115.90(1), Wis. Stats., the Department of Public Instruction investigated this complaint. In investigating a complaint, the department reviews a district's compliance with state and federal requirements. During this investigation, department staff reviewed documents submitted by the complainant, the district's response to the complaint, and relevant education records of the child. Department staff also spoke with the complainant and the district's special education coordinator.

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ISSUE #1:

During the 1998-99 school year, did the district fail to conduct a timely three-year reevaluation of the child?

ISSUE #2:

In September 1999, did the district improperly change the location where the child received special education services?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

Section 115.78, Wisconsin Statutes
Individualized education program team; timeline.

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(2) DUTIES OF TEAM. The individualized education program team shall do all of the following:

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(b) Develop an individualized education program for the child under s.115.787.
(c) Determine the special education placement for the child under s. 115.79.

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Section 115.782, Wisconsin Statutes
Evaluations.

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(4) REEVALUATIONS. (a) A local educational agency shall ensure that the individualized education program team does all of the following:

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2. Reevaluates a child with a disability in accordance with this section if the local educational agency determines that conditions warrant a reevaluation or if the child's parent or teacher requests a reevaluation, but at least once every 3 years.

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Section 115.792, Wisconsin Statutes
Procedural Safeguards.

(1) SAFEGUARDS ENSURED.

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(b) The local educational agency shall establish and maintain procedures to ensure that a child's parents are provided prior written notice whenever the local educational agency proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child.

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FINDINGS OF FACT:

The district has acknowledged that it did not complete a timely three-year reevaluation of the complainant's child by September 29, 1998, when the reevaluation was due. Individualized education program (IEP) team meetings to determine the child's continued eligibility for special education were held on November 4 and December 14, 1998.

The district has also acknowledged that, on September 9, 1999, it improperly changed the location where the child received special education services. Specifically, the child was moved from the regular education classroom to the cognitive disabilities classroom. The district did not provide prior written notice to the child's parents and did not conduct an IEP team meeting to review and, if appropriate, revise the child's IEP prior to changing the location of services. The district did hold IEP team meetings to review and revise the child's IEP on September 23 and October 5, 1999. Since filing the complaint, the child's mother has begun home-schooling the child.

On October 26 and November 2, 1999, the special education coordinator met with the high school principal and special education staff regarding the requirement that an IEP team meeting be convened prior to changing the location of services or a child's special education placement.

CONCLUSION AND DIRECTIVE:

As acknowledged by the district, the department concludes a violation occurred with regard to issue #1. Because the district did reevaluate the child in 1998, the district is not directed to take further corrective action specific to the child. With regard to the reevaluations of other children with disabilities, the district's special education coordinator has already begun meeting with building principals and special education staff to review the requirements and modify, if necessary, the district's procedures for conducting timely three-year reevaluations. The district will complete these meetings by January 14, 2000. The department approves this corrective action plan.

As acknowledged by the district, the department also concludes that a violation occurred with regard to issue #2. The district has already held IEP team meetings to review and revise the child's IEP, in recognition that it improperly changed the location of services on September 9, 1999. The child is no longer attending school in the district because he is being home-schooled. Therefore, the district is not directed to take further corrective action specific to the child.

With regard to other children with disabilities, the special education coordinator has already taken the corrective action of meeting with the high school principal and special education staff regarding the requirement that an IEP team meeting be convened to review and, if appropriate, revise the child's IEP prior to changing the location of services to a child. The district is further directed, within 30 days of receipt of this report, to submit to the department a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that district administrators and special education staff are informed that a child's parents must be provided prior written notice before the location of the child's special education services or placement is changed.

The CAP must include the activities the district will undertake to implement the directive, the personnel responsible for each activity, the date by which each activity will be completed, and the type of documentation that will be submitted to the department as evidence of completion of each activity. The CAP will be reviewed and the district will be informed if any revisions are required. The district should implement the CAP after it has been approved by the department.

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This concludes our investigation of this complaint. This letter is not intended, and should not be construed, to cover any other issues regarding compliance with the IDEA or Chapter 115, Wisconsin Statutes, which may exist and which are not specifically discussed herein. Under the Wisconsin public records law, ss. 19.31-19.39, Wisconsin Statutes, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request.

signed JSP
12/13/99
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Juanita S. Pawlisch, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

smp

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