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IDEA Complaint Decision 04-017

On April 20, 2004 (letter dated April 16), the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District. The issue is whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, implemented a student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding providing books on tape. This is the department's decision for that complaint.

The parent alleges the district did not provide her child with the books on tape in a timely manner as required by the IEPs for the 2003-2004 school year. The IEP developed on January 17, 2003, required the provision of "books on tape for all content areas as needed . . . ." The current IEP developed on January 17, 2004, and finalized on May 28, stated the student will have "access to books on tape including novels and textbooks when available on tape" in "all school environments."

The local education agency (LEA) must provide special education and supplementary aids and services to a child with a disability in accordance with the child's IEP. The services must be stated in the IEP in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in the development and implementation of the IEP. Services must provide a free, appropriate public education to the individual student and may not be conditioned on the availability of resources. The IEPs written on January 17, 2003, and May 28, 2004, do not meet these requirements with regard to the provisions of books on tape. The term "as needed" contained in the January 17 IEP does not clearly define the circumstances under which the child will receive the books on tape. The term "when available" contained in the May 28 IEP appears to inappropriately condition a service on the availability of resources.

Within forty-five days of receiving this decision, the district must submit to the department a proposed corrective action that ensures an IEP team is reconvened to address the child-specific issue of clearly defining the supplementary aids and services for books on tape. The district will also ensure that special education staff members understand how to define and write the frequency and amount of services specified in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in both the development and the implementation of the IEP. Finally, the Assistant Principal provided some positive suggestions for revision of procedures related to books on tape at the school level and district-wide. Within forty-five days, the district will review this issue and submit a revised procedure related to books on tape for the department's review.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 6/18/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy