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IDEA Complaint Decision 06-004

On January 20, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Nekoosa School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district:

  • Conducted an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting with required participants in April 2005;
  • At the beginning of year the 2005-2006 school year, properly implemented a student’s placement and modifications and accommodations required in the student’s IEP;
  • Ensured that staff responsible for implementing portions of the child’s IEP during the 2005-2006 school year were informed of their specific responsibilities; and
  • Properly responded to the parent’s request in October 2005 for an IEP team meeting.

On April 21, 2005, the student’s IEP team met to conduct the annual review and revision of the IEP and to discuss the student’s move to high school the following year. The parent and student participated in the meeting. District staff who participated included a local educational agency (LEA) representative, the student’s special education teacher, a high school special education teacher, and a high school regular education teacher. State and federal law require that the IEP team include at least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment. The student’s current regular education teacher is required in order to provide information regarding the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum. The IEP team meeting held on April 21, 2005 did not include one of the student’s current regular education teachers, and there is no indication that the excusal from attendance provisions created by IDEA 2004 were followed. The district must, within 30 days, develop a corrective action plan to ensure that the required participants are included in IEP team meetings.

The student’s IEP provides for additional time on tests and quizzes in both the regular education and special education classrooms. The IEP further provides for modification of tests and quizzes and use of notes and books. Teachers received a list of students receiving special education during the first two weeks of the 2005-2006 school year. The student’s regular education teachers, however, were not provided information about her IEP. Districts must ensure that regular education teachers, special education teachers, related services providers and other service providers have access to the child’s IEP, and be informed of the specific responsibilities related to implementing the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided to the child in accordance with the IEP. This requirement is critical to ensuring that the IEP is appropriately and effectively implemented. Teachers indicated they did not know the student was in special education and were unaware of the above IEP provisions relating to test taking until sometime in October. The district, however, has already taken steps to ensure that teachers are effectively informed of IEP provisions. The district has established a computerized process to provide the teachers and service providers with the applicable portions of the IEP immediately after its development. No further corrective action is warranted.

On November 4, 2005 the student’s special education teacher contacted the special education director and indicated the parent was unhappy with the student’s program. There was some discussion regarding whether an IEP team meeting was necessary, but ultimately it was decided that a parent conference was more appropriate, and the parent agreed with this decision. On November 16, 2005, district staff met with the parent to discuss her concerns. Staff informed the parent they were concerned about student’s excessive absenteeism and how that impacted her academic progress. After the November meeting, the district made several attempts to address the parent’s concerns and requests, which included a request to significantly reduce the student’s schedule, which the district granted. The special education director met with the parent again on December 7, 2005, and spoke with her several times by telephone through this period. A joint request for mediation was filed in January, and two mediation sessions were held. An IEP team meeting was held on March 8, 2006. Although it was unclear to the district whether the parent was requesting an IEP meeting, an IEP meeting should have been conducted earlier particularly when the parent requested the student’s schedule be reduced. The schedule change should have been done through the IEP process. The district must, within 30 days, develop a corrective action plan to ensure that IEP team meetings are appropriately conducted.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 3/21/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy