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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-037

On April 17, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wisconsin Rapids School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2006-2007 school year:

  • Properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the annual goal;
  • Provided the required hours of instruction;
  • Invited and included required IEP participants during team meetings; and
  • Properly determined and implemented transition services.

In April 2007 the student’s IEP team met to review the annual goals, which included one on improving written language skills. A short-term objective listed under this goal concerned paragraph development. During the course of this meeting, the parents were informed that the teacher did not have time to work on this objective because of community-based experiences and speech and language services. However, the teacher had worked on the other objective listed under the goal, which involved spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Since the April meeting, the teacher focused on paragraph development, and the student will further receive extended school year services to work on this goal and objective. The district implemented the student’s IEP regarding this annual goal.

The school district provides a van to transport the student to and from school. The student arrives at the high-school at approximately 7:20 a.m. and leaves the school at approximately 2:20 p.m. Instruction for all high-school students, including this student, begins at 7:40 a.m., but other students are released at 2:50 p.m. instead of 2:20 p.m.. This student also received 35 minute lunch period, and he did not receive any instruction during this time. Consequently, he received 1,095 hours of instruction. There is nothing in the student’s IEP which indicated the IEP team, based on the student’s needs, determined he required a reduced schedule.

State law requires districts to schedule direct student instruction for at least 1,137 hours each year for students in grades 7-12. This provision includes recess and time for students to transfer between classes but does not include lunch periods. Because the student was released earlier than other students, he was not provided with the required hours of instruction for the 2006-2007 school year. Furthermore, the student’s IEP team did not determine a reduced schedule was required. Within 30 days of receiving this decision the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine whether the student requires additional services due to the reduction in direct student instruction. In addition, within 30 days, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure all students who receive specialized transportation are provided the required hours of instruction.

The district acknowledges the student’s regular education teacher did not attend the April 2007 IEP team meeting. Although the IEP indicated the regular education teacher provided a verbal report to the special education teacher in order to give input into the development of the IEP, written consent for the excusal was not obtained from the parent, and the regular education teacher did not provide written input prior to the meeting. Within 30 days, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure regular education teachers attend IEP team meetings unless the excusal provisions are properly followed.

Finally, the district properly determined and implemented transition services. The IEP team, in developing the transition services, considered the student’s interests and needs. The student worked on some job sites that reflected his interest. In his current job site, district staff attempted to have the student placed in a department that matched his interests, but was unable to do so because of store requirements. The IEP team further determined it was important the student have a variety of job experiences to build job skills and interests. District staff further asked the student what he liked about each job, and what he did not like, in order to help further develop interests. The IEP team also considered the student needs in developing annual goals to strengthen independent living skills. Finally, district staff has worked with adult service providers to ensure post-secondary support.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 6/15/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy