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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-020

On March 23, 2009 (form dated March 22, 2009), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wisconsin Rapids School District. This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2008-2009 school year, utilized a properly licensed teacher, properly informed staff of their responsibility for implementing the student’s individualized education program (IEP), and properly addressed the annual goals.

Each school board must ensure every teacher, supervisor or other professional staff member holds a valid certificate, license, or permit issued by the department for the position which he/she is employed before engaging in duties of such a position. A substitute teacher employed for more than 20 consecutive days in the same assignment may be employed only in the subject and grade level in which the teacher is licensed. The school district hired a long-term substitute teacher from January 5 to March 27, 2009 to teach in a general education elementary classroom. The substitute teacher holds a Wisconsin DPI license in elementary education at the kindergarten through sixth grade level and has the appropriate department teacher license to be a long-term substitute.

Department staff interviewed the general and special education teachers and the substitute teacher regarding whether the substitute teacher was fully informed of her responsibilities regarding the student’s IEP. From January 5 through March 27, 2009, the substitute teacher replaced the general education teacher. In December, in preparation for assuming classroom duties, the substitute teacher met with the general education and special education teachers to review the student’s IEP, including the teacher’s IEP responsibilities and the annual goals. The substitute had access to the student’s IEP, a daily notebook that included information on the student’s behavior, quarterly reports, and daily behavior tracking charts. The substitute teacher was also in contact with the special education teacher on a daily basis. On January 28, 2009, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP, and the substitute teacher attended. The teacher understood her IEP responsibilities and implemented them with daily guidance from the special education teacher. The student’s IEP goals were also addressed on a daily basis.

On April 14, 2009, the special education director sent a memo to all special education teachers describing how to inform the general education teaching staff of their IEP responsibilities with regard to implementing IEP goals and supplementary aids and services. The district made every effort to ensure staff were aware for their IEP responsibilities.

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

//signed CST 5/15/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy