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IDEA Complaint Decision 04-020

On May 4, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Appleton Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district ensured that a parent was present during, or afforded the opportunity to participate in, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting conducted on April 2, 2004, and whether the IEP team developed the student's program and placement during the April 2 meeting.

A district must take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present at IEP team meetings or are afforded the opportunity to participate. If a parent cannot attend an IEP team meeting, the district should use other methods to ensure parent participation, including rescheduling the meeting or using individual or conference telephone calls. A written invitation was sent to the student's parents on March 23, 2004, notifying them of the scheduled IEP team meeting for April 2, 2004. District staff also contacted the mother on April 1, 2004, to remind her of the meeting. The parents contend that during this telephone conversation, district staff informed the mother that the student would not receive homebound instruction. The parents stated that this remark caused the mother to decide not to attend the meeting. There is no evidence that the district was informed during this phone conversation, or at any other time, that the mother would not be available on that date. Furthermore, the father requested that he be allowed to participate through a conference telephone call, which the district arranged for the April 2, 2004, meeting. Interviews with other IEP members indicate that the father participated throughout the meeting.

The parents also contend that they were informed by district staff prior to the April 2, 2004, meeting that their request for homebound instruction was denied. Decisions regarding the individualized education program and the special education placement must be made by the IEP team, which includes the parents of the child. Department staff interviewed most of the April 2, 2004, IEP team participants. Each person interviewed stated that it was an IEP team decision that homebound instruction was not the appropriate placement. The members stated that this decision was not made prior to the April 2 meeting, but through the IEP process which occurred on that date, and that input was considered from all of the team participants. After the April 2 meeting, the IEP team met again on June 1, 2004, at the parent's request to further discuss homebound instruction. At the June 1, 2004, meeting it was decided that the IEP team would meet again in August to see how the student was doing and to reconsider the issue. The district followed procedural requirements related to parent participation in IEP team meetings and IEP team placement decisions.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 7/2/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy