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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-075

On September 4, 2008 (form dated September 2, 2008), the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from xxxxx against the Janesville School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP), included all IEP team participants who attended the IEP team meeting on the invitation notice, and properly considered the parent’s input in the development of the IEP.

The child’s annual IEP for the 2007-2008 school year provided, under supplementary aids and supports, daily adult support during times of transition (start of day, between activities, classes, and locations in the school), times of frustration, and to complete assignments and projects. The parent alleges the school staff did not implement her child’s IEP from the start of the 2007-2008 school year to mid-November. She stated the staff did not consistently ensure the child had daily access to adult support as required by the IEP. The parent indicated on occasion the paraprofessional was not available to take the child to the therapy room for a sensory break when the child arrived at the school and the child was left to wander the hallway with no adult support. The parent also indicated the staff did not properly document the child’s seizure activity during the school day. The parents removed the child from the school in November 2007 until early February 2008 when the child returned to a different school in the district.

Based on staff notes and phone interviews with the occupational and speech language therapists and the principal and special education coordinator, the child’s daily transitions into the therapy room for sensory breaks was discussed at the May 31, June 5, and September 27, 2007, IEP team meetings including the parents and during informal conversations thereafter. The IEP team determined the parents should drop off their child at the class entry door. The paraprofessional was assigned to meet the child at 8:15 a.m. at the class entry door and then accompany the child to the therapy room or the general education classroom. Because the parent arrived with the child at inconsistent times, the paraprofessional was assigned to other duties but was contacted by the child’s teacher as soon as the child arrived. When the parents arrived late, they were instructed to go directly to the general education classroom and wait for adult support, which was provided.

At the end of May 2007, the parents provided the nurse with information regarding possible seizure activity. At the beginning of the school year, the nurse requested additional information of the parents regarding the specifics of the seizure activity in order to write a seizure plan. The parents did not provide additional information to the nurse. During the first part of the school year, the school nurse sent a memo to all staff who had contact with the child explaining the parents’ request to observe the child for possible characteristics of seizure activity. The staff did observe the child but did not note such characteristics during this time. A notation in the 2008 IEP states staff monitored the student’s health concerns but did not observe characteristics of seizure activity as described by the nurse during the school day. The notation further states an investigation by staff confirmed adequate safety measures were in place. The department concludes the school staff provided the proper adult support, as required by the child’s IEP, and documentation of identifying possible characteristics of seizure activity during the school day.

The special education coordinator attended the child’s IEP team meetings on September 27, 2007, February 5, and May 14, 2008, but was not listed on the IEP invitation notice sent to the parents. The district did not properly include the special education coordinator on the Invitation to a Meeting of the IEP Team notice. Districts must provide notice informing the parent of who will be in attendance at the IEP team meeting. The district must, within 30 days from the date of this decision, develop a corrective action plan to ensure parents are provided proper notice of who will attend an IEP team meeting.

The parent states her requests were not considered or addressed in the child’s IEP and at the IEP team meetings. The school staff indicate both parents voiced their concerns at the IEP team meetings. The child’s 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 IEPs, under the present level of academic achievement and functional performance, document the parents’ concerns and explain how they were addressed. The school staff also state they have always worked closely with the parents and considered their concerns and input when developing the child’s education program. For example, the district considered the parents’ input in providing shortened days, collaborating with the in-home therapist, working with a private consultant, and changing the child’s school of enrollment. The department concludes the school staff considered the parents’ concerns and requests at IEP team meetings on a regular basis.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 11/3/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy