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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-069

On October 9, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Superior. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district:

  • Properly developed and implemented an individualized education program (IEP) and placement for a student during the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school years; and
  • Properly afforded the parent an opportunity to participate in an IEP team meeting conducted in September 2007.

In June 2006, the IEP team conducted an annual review of the student’s IEP and placement. The IEP team determined the student would continue in the “off campus program,” where he had shown improvement in both academic areas and attendance. The IEP team determined this program was appropriate because the student did not do well in large regular education settings. The student’s IEP stated he would be provided with “3-8” hours per week of direct and small group instruction in language and math. The IEP further stated that, at the student’s discretion, he may attend an evening project outreach program and one class at the district high school. No measurable postsecondary goal or transition services were provided in the student’s IEP. This program was not successful, and the student attended only sporadically.

District staff attempted to schedule an IEP team meeting in September 2007 but were unable to do so because of difficulties in reaching the parent and arranging a mutually agreed upon time. Staff attempted to contact the parent several times in September through home visits and telephone calls but the attempts were unsuccessful. An IEP team meeting scheduled for September 25, 2007, was cancelled due to a staff member emergency. The meeting was rescheduled for September 27, 2007, but the parent informed the district that she was not available on that date. An IEP team meeting was eventually held on October 11, 2007, and the parent and student attended the meeting. Because the program was unsuccessful the previous year, the IEP was revised. With student input, the IEP team developed a program where the student would receive coursework that would be completed in a resource room at the high school for a “minimum of 2.5 hours” daily. The intent is to have the student transition into a regular education classroom environment by the end of the first semester of the 2007-08 school year. The IEP determined that this program reflected the student’s preferences and needs. However, again no post secondary transition goal or transition services were provided in the student’s IEP.

The amount of special education and services to be provided must be stated in the IEP so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team members. The amount must be appropriate to the specific service, and stated in the IEP in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in both the development and implementation of the IEP. Neither the 2006-07 nor the 2007-08 program contained this required specificity. The use of the term “minimum” does not provide a clear commitment of resources, and a range from 3-8 hours is also too wide.

Furthermore, beginning no later than in the first IEP that will be in effect when the child is 14, and updated annually thereafter, the IEP must include a statement of appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals for the student based on age-appropriate transition assessment related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills. The IEP must further include a description of the transition services, including courses of study, needed to assist the student in reaching the goals. These requirements were not met.

The district must, within 20 days from the date of this decision, conduct an IEP team meeting to revise the student’s IEP: to ensure the amount and frequency of special education is described with the required specificity; to include appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals; to determine transition services, and to consider whether additional services are required because of the lack of specificity in the special education programming and the failure to include transition goals and services. The district must further, within 30 days from the date of this decision, develop a corrective action plan to ensure the amount of special education and services in all district IEPs are properly described, and that state and federal requirements relating to transition are implemented.

With regard to the second issue, the district did afford the parent an opportunity to participate in an IEP meeting. An LEA must take steps to ensure that the parents of a child with a disability are present or offered the opportunity to participate at each meeting required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. A local educational agency must schedule such a meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. In early September 2007, staff attempted to contact the parent several times through both telephone calls and home visits but were unable to successfully contact the parent. The district was eventually able to contact the parent, but due to availability of both staff and the parent, a meeting could not be scheduled until October 11, 2007, and the parent was present at the meeting.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CSTP 12/10/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy