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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-026

On March 7, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2007-08 school year, properly implemented a student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding use of supplementary aids and services and provision of related services.

On April 26, 2007, when the student was enrolled in eighth grade, the IEP team met and developed an IEP to be implemented at a district high school during the student’s ninth grade year. The parent alleges the district did not implement supplementary aids and services in the IEP including reading accommodations, writing accommodations, alternative assessment techniques, flexible timelines, behavioral supports, additional checks for understanding, assistance managing projects, emotional assistance, and note taking assistance throughout the 2007-08 school year. In addition, he maintains that the psychological services listed in the related services were not implemented until late February of 2008, more than six months into the school year.

The student’s IEP specifies that reading accommodations, alternative assessment techniques, flexible timelines, shortened assignments, behavioral supports, and emotional supports should be provided “as needed.” Services 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 participants. The use of the term "as needed" did not inform the parents and other IEP team participants of this commitment.

With regard to writing accommodations, the IEP states that for all writing assignments in all classes the student is to receive “note taking assistance, graphic organizers, oral processing and organizing assistance, editing assistance, checklists, assignments broken into manageable pieces, [and use of a] word processor.” Editing assistance and access to a word processor was provided. Staff also confirmed that the student had been introduced to a variety of graphic organizers including a five paragraph essay checklist and a template/prep sheet prior to each in-class essay. Note taking assistance, however, was not provided in a consistent manner.

The student’s IEP also specified that after directions were given, the student must be given checks for understanding and clarification of directions. Interviews with district staff confirmed that checks and clarification were given. With regard to assistance managing projects, the IEP states that for daily homework as well as larger assignments, the student is to receive “assistance with managing projects/assignment [including] timelines, breaking them down into parts, strategies, prioritizing, and reminders to use assignment notebook.” Assignments were broken down; and templates, rubric, and deadlines for each step were provided. During the study skills class, assistance with managing projects and assignments was also provided, daily assignments were reviewed, and the student was reminded to maintain an assignment notebook.

In the Related Services section, the IEP states that the student will receive psychological services, “two times per month, or more if needed.” In his complaint, the parent alleges that these services were not provided until the parent filed the IDEA complaint against the district and that the student met with the school psychologist for the first time in late February.

Though the district contends that the school psychologist was available for the student on her own initiation, the district acknowledges that the student was not provided with the individual psychological services listed in the IEP until late February. According to the school psychologist, she was not informed of her responsibilities under the IEP until February 2008. The department concludes that the district has not properly addressed this component of the IEP.

The district must hold an IEP team meeting to revise the student’s IEP with the required specificity so all parties understand what is to be provided. The IEP team must further consider whether the student requires additional services due to the periods when the IEP was not properly implemented during the 2007-08 school year. The district must submit an update regarding the IEP team’s conclusions to the department by June 3, 2008.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure all IEPs are written with the required specificity and district staff are aware of their responsibilities to implement student IEPs as written.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 5/6/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy