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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-061

On June 27, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the West Bend School District. The issues relate to the 2007-08 school year and are identified below.

On April 25, 2007, an individualized education program (IEP) team convened by another school district met and developed an IEP for the student. Because the parents were planning to move the student into the West Bend School District for the upcoming school year, a teacher and principal from West Bend attended the IEP team meeting. On July 23, 2007, a program support teacher with West Bend reviewed the IEP and determined it would be implemented in the district as written. The student began attending the West Bend School District during summer school prior to the 2007-08 school year. The parents removed the student from the district and began home-schooling on November 30, 2007.

  • Whether the district properly implemented a student's IEP regarding provision of special education, use of supplementary aids and services, and program supports for school personnel.

Services must be stated in the IEP so the level of the agency’s commitment of resources and the extent of removal from the regular education environment will be clear to the parents and district staff implementing the IEP. The program summary of the student’s IEP included a minimum of three and a half hours of special education services each day. The use of the term "minimum" did not properly inform the parents and other IEP team participants of this commitment.

The supplementary aids and services listed in the IEP included a quiet work place, access to a cool off area, sensory manipulatives, visual schedule/visual hand cues, and modified/supplemental assignments. The IEP also stated a communication log between the classroom teacher, parents, and special education teacher would be used on a weekly basis. The student was allowed as needed to work at quiet areas arranged in the classroom. Throughout the school year, the staff provided the student with a variety of safe areas to cool off; the resource room, an adjoining unused classroom, the hallway, and the principal’s office. Special education staff provided the student with a variety of sensory manipulatives, including various seat cushions, squeeze balls, and the opportunity to stand or kneel in class. The special education teacher developed a variety of visual schedule and hand cues which were implemented. The student’s assignments were modified for essential content in spelling and mathematics after consultation with the regular education teacher. Special and regular education teachers communicated with the parent by writing in the student’s daily planner, sending e-mails, and placing phone calls. The district properly implemented the student's IEP regarding the use of supplementary aids and services.

The IEP listed program modifications or supports for school personnel which included collaborative consultation between teachers and specialists for 75 minutes per week. Teaching staff consulted in grade level teams weekly for 45 minutes, as a special education team bi-weekly for 30 minutes, and together as regular and special education staff monthly for one hour. Special and regular education teachers consulted and planned lessons for 45 minutes per week in both writing and math. District staff also consulted with guidance and speech and language specialists on a weekly basis. Together, these consultations add up to more than the 75 minutes per week as required in the IEP. The district properly implemented the student's IEP regarding the use of program modifications or supports.

  • Whether the district properly responded to parental request for a reevaluation.

The IEP team must conduct a reevaluation of a student with a disability either when the district determines a reevaluation is needed or if the student’s parent or teacher requests an evaluation. However, the IEP team must reevaluate a child no more than once a year unless the child’s parent and the school district agree otherwise and at least once every three years unless the child’s parent and the school district agree a reevaluation is unnecessary. On October 17, 2007, the parents spoke with the speech and language pathologist and requested the child be reevaluated. On October 23, the district office received a request for a reevaluation from the speech and language pathologist. On November 13, the special education teacher called the parent, and they agreed to proceed with the evaluation without the review of existing data by the IEP team. The IEP team must review existing data on the child to determine whether additional data is needed to complete the evaluation. The district did not conduct this required review.

On November 20, the district received parent consent for the reevaluation and on November 30, the student was removed from the district and began home- schooling. On December 6, the district notified the parents the testing required for the reevaluation would be discontinued. Districts have an obligation to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities who are in need of special education and related services. This obligation includes children who are schooled at home. The district failed to fulfill its child find obligation for home- school students when it discontinued the student’s reevaluation. The district has voluntarily agreed to resume the reevaluation process for the student.

  • Whether the district properly modified the student’s behavioral intervention plan.

If the IEP team determines the student’s behavior is interfering with the child’s learning, or that of others, the IEP team must consider strategies, including positive interventions and supports, to address the behavior. The IEP includes a number of positive interventions focused on improving behavior, such as frequent reminders, breaks, positive reinforcement, and increased communication between school and home. The district designed a tally sheet behavior plan, which included increasing privileges and frequent check-ins with a teacher. The tally sheet program was within the scope of the positive interventions and supports listed in the IEP. The district did not improperly modify the student’s behavioral intervention plan listed in the IEP.

  • Whether the district ensured staff responsible for implementing portions of the child's IEP were informed of their responsibilities.

Districts must ensure regular education teachers, special education teachers, and related services providers are informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the child’s IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided to the child in accordance with the IEP. This requirement is critical to ensuring the IEP is appropriately and effectively implemented. The district special education teachers held meetings before the beginning of the school year to communicate IEP components and responsibilities to the school aides and teachers who were responsible for IEP implementation. The district ensured staff members responsible for implementing portions of the child’s IEP were informed of their responsibilities.

  • Whether the district provided required special education services to a child with a disability utilizing properly licensed teaching staff.

The student's IEP required special education services related to the student’s disabilities. The parent alleges these services were not provided by a properly licensed special education teacher. If a special education teacher has a license in the child's area of disability, the teacher generally is considered to be qualified to teach the child. In this case, the teacher providing the services required by the IEP currently holds a valid Wisconsin license for special education at the proper grade level. The teacher is properly licensed to provide the special education services required in the student's IEP.

Within thirty days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure reevaluations are properly conducted. The district is further directed to provide documentation of the student’s reevaluation to the department by October 31, 2008.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/26/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy