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IDEA Complaint Decision 06-018

On April 3, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Evansville Community School District. This is the department’s decision for that complaint. The issues cover the period April to June 2005.

  • Whether the district properly determined and implemented behavior management procedures for a student with a disability.

In early October 2004 the parent met with district staff accompanied by a professional who recommended behavior intervention strategies for the student. In early December 2004, the parent attended an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting accompanied by a second professional who provided the team with a more detailed plan to address student behaviors. IEP teams also met in February and in March 2005. The team which met in March 2005 included a detailed behavior intervention plan (BIP) in the student’s IEP based on the recommendations of the two professionals. The parent acknowledges that this BIP is appropriate, but maintains that the district did not properly include the recommendations in her child’s IEP sooner.

District staff who attended the October 2004 meeting discussed the proposals several days after the meeting and started utilizing some of the recommendations with the student soon after. Approximately two weeks later, staff began tracking and charting the student’s behaviors to establish baseline information to further develop a program. District staff also considered the recommendations made during the December IEP team meeting, but found some of those recommendations to be incompatible with the earlier recommendations. During the October 2004 to March 2005 time period, the student’s IEP includes positive behavioral strategies and supports to address student behavior interfering with learning and other aids and services to address the student’s behavioral needs. The district properly determined and implemented behavior management procedures for the student to be implemented between April and June 2005.

  • Whether the district provided required services beginning when it suspended the student for more than 10 days during the school year.
  • Whether the district ensured the student had an IEP in effect beginning in May 2005.

The student was suspended for part or all of 18 days during the school year. May 25, 2005, was the 11th day of suspension. This suspension continued on May 26 and 27. The student did not receive services during these three days. An IEP team met May 25, 2005, to conduct a manifestation determination and determine the student’s program and placement for the remainder of the year. The IEP team also reviewed the student’s behavior intervention plan and, in response to the parents’ request, determined that the student would receive extended school year (ESY) services for the summer of 2005. The IEP team did not determine the services to be provided to the student during the May 25 to May 27 days of suspension. Beginning on the 11th cumulative day of suspension in the school year, the district was obligated to determine and provide services for the student to the extent necessary to enable the student to progress appropriately in the general curriculum and advance appropriately toward achieving annual goals. No child specific corrective action is required since the student no longer resides in the district. No later than August 1, 2006, the district will develop and submit to the department corrective measures to ensure that the requirement to provide services to students with disabilities beginning with the 11th cumulative day of suspension in a school year is met.

The parents also maintain that the district did not develop an IEP to be in effect at the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year. The district did develop and implement an ESY IEP for summer 2005, but did not develop an IEP for the 2005-2006 school year. However, the family moved prior to the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year, and the district was not required to develop an IEP for the student for that school year.

  • Whether the district properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding participation in a social skills group.

The BIP, which was part of IEPs in effect during April and May 2005, indicates that the student was to be included in a social group to address social skills. This is one component of a detailed and lengthy BIP which includes multiple approaches for addressing identified behaviors. The district utilized two different strategies to include the student in such a group earlier in the year, but had found that, for different reasons, the two approaches did not have the desired result. District staff continued to implement other portions of the BIP, but decided not to continue with this approach. This decision was based on the student’s individual needs. However, the district did not reconvene an IEP team meeting to consider discontinuing this required service. The district was required to continue to implement the social skills group portion of the BIP until such time as an IEP team decided to discontinue the service. No later than August 1, 2006, the district will develop and submit to the department corrective measures to ensure that IEPs are implemented until modified using proper procedures.

  • Whether the district properly implemented the student’s IEP during the last 10 days of school regarding social skills goals, behavior goals and academic goals.

The IEP team which convened on May 25 developed a program and placement covering the period May 27 to June 10, 2005. This IEP provides for two hours of instruction each day at school between 3:30 and 5:30. The IEP notes that programming during these hours will result in a loss of peer interaction for the student. The IEP also indicates that the placement was necessary at that time due to the student’s behavior, which posed a significant danger to the student and to others. The team concluded that the special education and supplementary aids and services required in the previous IEP no longer enabled the student to remain in the regular education environment. The team discussed several other placement options which would not have permitted the student to continue receiving services at the school he had been attending.

The BIP from the previous IEP continued in place in the IEP developed on May 25. The May 25 IEP specifically indicates that district staff will review the behavior plan with the teacher implementing the IEP. This behavior plan provides that the student will be included in a social group to address social skills. The language of the IEP and placement notice developed May 25, 2005, read as a whole, indicate that the team did not intend for the student to participate in a social skills group for the period of the IEP. The IEP team based its determination on the student’s needs. The IEP also provides that that student will receive one-to-one individualized reading, language arts and math instruction to access and progress toward the IEP goals. The district provided the instruction required by this IEP. The district implemented the May 25, 2005, regarding social skills goals, behavior goals and academic goals during the period of the IEP.

  • Whether the district properly attempted to include the parent in a May 25, 2005, IEP team meeting.
  • Whether the district properly included a regular education teacher in the May 25, 2005, IEP team meeting.

The parent attended the May 25, 2005, IEP team meeting. In early May the district sent the parent a written notice indicating the time, place and other required information for the meeting. However, several days before the meeting the district sent another notice which changed the purpose of the meeting to include conducting a manifestation determination. In light of the change in purpose and the behavioral incident occurring on May 20 which led to the change in purpose, the parent wanted more time to prepare for the meeting and to be accompanied for the meeting by an individual having knowledge or special expertise regarding the child. However, the individual was not available to attend the meeting at the arranged time.

Because the parent attended the May 25 IEP meeting, the district met the requirement to schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed time. The meeting was held on the fifth day of a five-day suspension. In addition, the district was required to return the student to school and to develop and implement an IEP to complete the school year. Given these factors, the district was permitted to hold the meeting at the previously arranged time despite the parent request for a delay.

At least one of the child’s regular education teachers must participate in IEP team meetings if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment. A regular education teacher attended the initial portion of the meeting when the IEP team conducted a manifestation determination May 25. The teacher was then excused to return to her classroom. The district had concluded that it was not safe for the student or others to continue the student’s participation in any regular education setting for the remainder of the year. Because the student would not be participating in regular education settings, the regular education teacher was not a required participant for the portion of the meeting when the IEP was developed.

  • Whether the district properly responded to the parents’ requests for occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy services for their child.

The district had conducted an occupational therapy evaluation several years ago and the IEP team determined the student did not require occupational therapy. Several approaches to be used by staff working with the student were recommended and utilized. District staff interviewed for this complaint could not remember the parent making a specific request during the school year for the student to receive any of these services or requesting assistance which could have been interpreted as such a request. There is insufficient information to find the district failed to respond to a parent request.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 6/21/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy