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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-048

On June 12, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Seymour Community 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 a student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the provision of supplementary aids and services and regarding collaboration between special and general education teachers;
  • Provided bi-weekly progress reports to parents as specified in a student’s IEP, and
  • Properly informed teachers of the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports to be provided to the student.

An IEP team meeting was held on December 4, 2006, to review and revise the student’s IEP. During the meeting, the parent expressed concerns about the student’s ability to stay organized and complete school assignments. The importance of communication between teachers and between teachers and parents regarding this concern was discussed. An IEP goal was revised to specifically address the student’s needs in this area. Special education services, supplementary aids and services, and supports for school personnel were discussed and included on the revised IEP. It was the understanding of both the parents and IEP team participants that there would be specific communication among the student’s teachers regarding work completion and the parent would be informed of the student’s progress every other week.

In her complaint, the parent alleges a lack of communication during the spring semester related to completion of a long-term science project and a violation of the provision in the student’s IEP that the student will attend each recess. She also believed one of the student’s teachers improperly proposed the student receive a lower grade if he used notes while taking a test. She asserted not all teachers who worked with the student had copies of his IEP and thus did not know what was expected.

With respect to the classroom test, there had been prior discussion among the student, teachers and parents regarding eventually reducing the need for accommodations. All students in this class were allowed to use notes during test taking, but received a lower grade if they did. The science teacher and special education teacher decided it might be appropriate to provide the student with the option of taking the final science test of the year without special accommodations. Given that the IEP included testing accommodations, the special education teacher called the parent to discuss the option. The parent did not agree with any testing option other than that written in the IEP. The student was allowed to use his notes and received his earned grade. The district properly implemented the supplementary aid and service related to test taking.

The long term science project noted in the parent’s complaint was assigned on March 8 and due on May 6. The library media specialist and science teacher shared instructional responsibilities for the project. The library media specialist assumed primary responsibility for the media portion of the project while the science teacher provided instruction on science content related to the project. The science and library media specialist reviewed the student’s IEP with the special education teacher and were provided with information needed to implement their responsibilities relevant to the project. The librarian, who reviewed the IEP in January and began working with the student in March, admits she did not recall the specific IEP requirements that applied to completion of the science project. Even though there were problems with implementing the student’s IEP that will be discussed later, the district appropriately provided the student’s teachers with access to the student’s IEP and properly informed each teacher of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the student’s IEP including the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports to be provided to the student.

In accordance with the student’s IEP, the project was divided into “chunks.” The student was given a requirement sheet specific to the project. This sheet went back and forth between the library and science room as the student worked on the project. A copy was not sent home. The science teacher and library media specialist met daily to discuss progress of all students in the class. Students who were behind in project completion were identified and were asked to work on the project in the library during recess. The student referenced in this complaint was identified as being behind in work completion only one or two days during the eight-week period. Any student could choose to stay in during recess to work on the project in the library. The student chose to do this several times during the eight-week period. The librarian was not aware the student’s IEP required the student to attend all recess periods and allowed the student to work in the library during recess. The district did not properly implement the supplementary aid and service of attending each recess.

The science teacher met regularly with the student’s homeroom teacher and with the special education teacher during the year. The homeroom teacher met regularly with the student’s special education teacher in accordance with the IEP. The library media specialist did not meet with the student’s special education teacher or homeroom teacher but did meet regularly with the science teacher. The science teacher completed bi-weekly progress reports which the homeroom teacher compiled for the parent as per the student’s IEP. Information was shared with the parents through communication with either the homeroom teacher or special education teacher. With respect to the science project, the student’s teachers agree the student’s progress was not monitored as carefully as it should have been and teachers were not aware of the extent of the student’s difficulty with the project. Although regular communication occurred between teachers and between the school and the parent, the district acknowledges the extent and content of the communication were not as the IEP team intended. The district did not appropriately implement the supplementary aids and services of consultation between the special education and classroom teachers, bi-weekly progress reports to parents, and small group or individual assistance with respect to the long-term science project. The student received a failing grade for the long-term project. After the parent contacted the school about the grade, specific information about the requirements of the project were provided to the parent, and the student was allowed to redo the project at home as requested by the parent for a new grade.

The special education director, building principal, and the student’s teachers involved in the complaint have reviewed the circumstances that led up to this complaint. They have made plans to improve recordkeeping and monitoring of student progress at intervals during the long-term science project. For the upcoming year, the special education teacher will meet regularly with the science teacher and library media specialist to insure adequate communication and follow-up for students with disabilities consistent with their IEPs. With respect to the student referenced in the complaint, in addition to allowing the student to redo the project for a new grade, a meeting was held before school ended with the student’s parents, the special education teacher, and staff who will be responsible for implementing the student’s IEP next year. Specific plans for communicating and implementing the student’s IEP were discussed and follow-up has been planned once the school year begins. No further corrective action is needed.

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

//signed CST 7/30/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy