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IDEA Complaint Decision 05-054

On November 11, 2005, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wilmot Union High School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district during the 2005-2006 school year, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) upon transfer, properly determined the student’s placement, properly developed measurable goals in the student’s IEP, and properly developed strategies to address student behavior which interferes with the student’s learning or learning of others.

The student is a transfer student from another Wisconsin school district and first began attending the Wilmot Union High School District on September 1, 2005. On August 24, 2005, a representative for the student completed an enrollment form. The representative did not indicate that the student had been receiving special education and did not provide any information as to what school the student attended previously. The only student records that the school district was initially able to obtain were disciplinary referrals from a 2005 summer school program. On September 12, 2005, the district was first informed that the student had been receiving special education services. Despite repeated requests, the district did not receive a fax copy of the student’s IEP from the previous school district until September 20, 2005. The IEP from the previous school district indicated that the student had been placed in an alternative educational setting and special education services provided consisted of one hour daily of behavioral and academic support. The IEP that the district received expired on June 15, 2005. On September 27, 2005, the IEP team held their first meeting. An IEP was not developed at this meeting due to extensive discussions and the length of the meeting. On October 19, 2005, the IEP was developed. Wilmot Union High School provided services consistent with the previous expired IEP through a combination of special education supports/modifications and assistance within a learning resource center. However, the school district did not ensure that the student had a current IEP. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure that IEPs are promptly developed.

The IEP team, on October 19, 2005, developed an IEP that reduced the student’s school day to two class periods and lunch. The student would attend one class and then receive for 45 minutes of one-on-one supervision to complete general educational development (GED) preparation. In making this determination, the IEP team considered that the student had numerous behavioral problems and had very few high school credits. The IEP team believed that a reduced schedule that focused on preparing for the GED would provide the most benefit for the student. The student’s behavior has shown marked improvement since the implementation of the October 19, 2005. However, the student was only 16 at the time the IEP was developed. A student must be at least 17 before he or she can participate in a program or curriculum modification leading to a high school equivalency diploma. Furthermore, although the IEP team developed measurable goals, one of the goals related to completing practice modules for the GED, and therefore was not permitted. As corrective action, the district must conduct an IEP meeting to determine an appropriate educational program for the student, and to determine whether additional services are required. The district must also within 30 days develop a corrective action plan to ensure that staff are aware of requirements relating to high school equivalency diplomas.

Finally, the IEP did consider appropriate information in developing strategies to address the student’s behavior. Prior to developing the IEP, the school district conducted a functional behavioral assessment for the student. As part of this assessment, teachers were asked to complete a behavioral assessment form. This information was taken into consideration in developing strategies to address the student’s behavior. The IEP team also considered previous unsuccessful interventions that had been tried. The IEP team believed that allowing for lunch with another student was a strong motivating factor in ensuring that the student attended school and controlled his behavior. The IEP team also allowed for the student to speak with his case manager or guidance counselor upon request when he became frustrated or had questions.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 1/10/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy