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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-070

On August 8, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Portage Community School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during August 2007, properly included the parents in individualized education program (IEP) team meetings.

The district held an IEP team meeting on August 22, 2007. Neither of the student’s parents attended nor did they participate in the meeting by other means. The parents believe the meeting should not have been scheduled because the IEP was not due to expire until late September. They also contend the brief conversation with one parent the morning of the meeting was not adequate parent involvement.

Each public agency must ensure the IEP team reviews the student’s IEP at least annually. A district may review the student’s IEP more frequently if requested by the parent or if district staff believe such a review is needed to address the student’s needs. A school district must take steps to ensure one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present at each IEP Team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate by other means. A meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if the public agency is unable to convince the parents they should attend. In this case, the public agency must keep a record of its attempts to arrange a mutually agreed on time.

The district determined an IEP team meeting was needed to address the student’s needs before the start of the 2007-2008 school year. On July 24, 2007, the district contacted the parents by phone, and then by email, notifying them of the district’s intent to hold an IEP team meeting and asking the parents to choose from possible meeting dates at the end of August. The district sent a follow-up email to the parents on July 30 and a letter on July 31. The parents did not respond to these correspondences. On August 15, 2007, the district sent a letter and IEP team invitation to the parents. The meeting was scheduled after work hours to accommodate the parents’ work schedule. The district requested the parents notify them of the parents’ decision whether or not they would attend and provided the parents with a copy of their procedural safeguards. The district did not receive a response. The district reached one of the student’s parents by phone the day before the meeting and was told the parents would not be attending. Shortly before the meeting was to begin, the student’s other parent sent an email to the district notifying the district they would not attend the IEP team meeting.

The district had the right to schedule an IEP team meeting prior to the expiration of the student’s annual IEP. The district offered the parents an opportunity to provide input into scheduling the meeting and gave the parents timely notice of the meeting. The district made a number of attempts by phone, email and mail to contact the parents prior to the meeting date. The parents did not respond to the district’s attempts to contact them until the day before the meeting when the parents notified the district of their decision to not participate in the meeting. The district properly afforded the student’s parents an opportunity to participate in the August 2007 IEP team meeting.

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

//signed CST 10/2/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy