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IDEA Complaint Decision 04-048

On October 19, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Green Bay Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2004-2005 school year, included services in a student's individualized education program (IEP) required to address organizational skill needs, provided occupational therapy to the student in accordance with his IEP, and responded properly to a parent request regarding transportation provided to her son as a related service.

The parents allege the student is not receiving the help he needs with organizational skills at school because there is insufficient staff available. In an email to the parent in October 2004, the child's special education teacher questioned whether the student possessed the organizational skills to get his behavior point sheet signed, given there is not as much support in his special education classes this year. The parent interpreted this to mean there was a reduction in special education services due to a lack of teacher availability. The current IEP requires three periods of special education services per day, with four additional periods of special education services on alternate days, and community education in various community locations at least twice a month. One of the student's annual goals in his IEP is to increase his organizational skills, given time and assistance. This goal is addressed during the special education services the student receives. A district must provide special education and related services to a child with a disability in accordance with the child's IEP. Unless the IEP provides otherwise, teachers may make specific day-to-day adjustments in instructional methods and approaches to assist a child with a disability to achieve his or her annual goals. The district provided the amount of special education specified in the student's IEP. There was no reduction in services due to a lack of teacher availability; strategies related to the annual goal were adjusted. The district has offered to meet with the parents to discuss whether additional assistance with organizational skills is needed.

The parents also allege the student has not received occupational therapy during the 2004-2005 school year. The IEP developed in June 2004, requires 60 minutes a month of occupational therapy services provided directly, indirectly, and as consultation. A therapy attendance and intervention record for the 2004-2005 school year, submitted by the district, indicates 60 minutes of consultation was provided each month by the occupational therapist during September and October. Monthly notes kept by the therapist provide details regarding the consultation with the student's teachers. The therapist also reported that he talked with the student during the year about therapeutic tools that were available for the student's use. An IEP team must decide how much related service a child needs, including the amount and frequency of services provided by an occupational therapist. The IEP commits a specific amount of services from the occupational therapist. Unless the IEP provides otherwise, the occupational therapist may adjust methods and approaches to meet the child's needs, including determining whether the child needs direct services. The student's IEP specified that the child would receive 60 minutes per month of occupational therapy; the parents believed their child would receive 60 minutes of direct service each month. The district provided occupational therapy as required by the student's IEP. The district, however, has agreed to meet with the parents to clarify the statement of related service and will include the occupational therapist at the meeting.

The student's IEP requires transportation be provided to and from school on a daily basis as a related service. The student is currently scheduled to be picked up by the school bus at 6:30 a.m. for a 45-minute bus ride to school. Before the 2004-2005 school year began, the parents expressed concern about the early pick up and length of the bus ride. The district offered to provide a taxi or to reimburse the parents for mileage to provide their own transportation. The parents deemed these as unacceptable choices. After the complaint was filed, the district made arrangements with a second bus company to provide pick up at 7:00 a.m. The district has been responsive to the parent's request regarding transportation provided to her son as a related service.

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

//signed CST 12/17/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy