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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-059

On August 12, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Sheboygan Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which relate to the 2008-2009 school year, are addressed below:

  • Whether the district properly developed and provided transition services in accordance with the student’s individualized education program (IEP) and determined the student was no longer eligible for special education

Beginning at the age of 14, the district must provide a statement of appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals for the student that are related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills, as well as a description of the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals. At the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, the student was 17 and a senior. The student’s IEP in effect for the 2008-09 school year did not include transition goals or transition services. On April 23, 2009, an IEP team meeting was held to address transition, review and revise the student’s IEP, and determine placement. The student had turned 18 before the April 23 meeting. The adult student and the student’s parent attended the meeting, as did a representative of a community agency that provided postsecondary services to adults with disabilities. A transition form was included in the April 23, 2009, IEP, but measurable postsecondary goal(s) were not developed. The IEP also did not include transition services to assist the student in reaching postsecondary goals. The only transition service listed was “providing information regarding community agency contacts to assist with future planning and support.”

The IEP in place prior to April 23, 2009, did not include a statement of transition goals or services. The statement of transition goals and services developed on April 23, 2009, did not include the required components. The district did not properly develop and provide transition services to the student during the 2008-2009 school year [§300.320 (b)]. The student has graduated with a regular high school diploma and is no longer enrolled in the district. However, the district is directed to hold an IEP team meeting to determine compensatory services needed to address the district’s failure to properly develop and provide transition services to the student during the 2008-2009 school year while the student was still eligible to receive FAPE [see Letter to Riffel, 34 IDELR 292]. The district will submit IEP team documentation to the department by November 9, 2009.

  • Properly informed the student of the transfer of parental rights when the child reached the age of 18

When a student with a disability reaches the age of 18, parental rights transfer to the student. Beginning one year before the student turns 18, and annually thereafter, the district must provide written notice to the parent and the student of the transfer of parental rights. The district first provided written notice of the transfer of parental rights to the parent and student on April 23, 2009, several months after the student turned 18. The district failed to properly inform the student and the student’s parent of the transfer of parental rights when the student reached the age of 18 [§300.320 (c), §300.520].

  • Properly provided a copy of the April 23, 2009, IEP to the student

Following review and revision of a student’s IEP, a district must give an adult student written notice of placement along with a copy of the IEP prior to implementation. The IEP developed on April 23 had an implementation date of April 24, 2009. A copy of the IEP and placement notice was mailed to the student on June 5, 2009. The district failed to timely provide a copy of the revised IEP to the student [s.115.787 (4)(c), Wis. Stats.].

  • Properly conducted an annual IEP team meeting

The April 23, 2009, IEP cover page indicates one purpose of the meeting was to develop the student’s annual IEP. “Develop an annual IEP” was also checked on the IEP team invitation. The student’s IEP goals and services were discussed, and a revised IEP was developed as a result of the meeting. The complainant believed the April 23 meeting was to discuss transition services, not to develop an annual IEP, as the student’s previous IEP did not expire until May 4, 2009. During the meeting, the IEP team discussed the possibility of having another IEP team meeting if the student did not complete graduation requirements by the end of the school year. On June 5, the complainant sent an email to the district stating she believed an annual IEP team meeting had not been held, and the adult student had not yet received a copy of the April 23 IEP meeting documentation. By that time, it had been determined the student had completed graduation requirements and would receive a regular high school diploma. The adult student did not request another IEP team meeting following the April 23 meeting. The district properly conducted an annual IEP team meeting on April 23, 2009.

  • Properly included the student in non-academic and extracurricular activities

Districts must take steps, including the provision of supplementary aids and services determined appropriate and necessary by the student’s IEP team, to afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in extracurricular services and activities, including a district’s graduation ceremony. The complainant maintains the district did not provide support to allow the student to participate in the district’s graduation rehearsal and graduation ceremony.

The IEP specified the student could participate in regular extracurricular and non-academic activities. No supplementary aids and services were included. The student’s participation in the graduation ceremony was discussed during the April 23 IEP team meeting. It was determined final plans for the student’s participation would wait until the student completed remaining requirements. The student was encouraged to participate and was told to notify the district if he decided to participate in graduation activities so arrangements could be made.

Subsequent to the April 23 meeting, the student completed graduation requirements. The student did not notify the district about participating in graduation activities. The student’s parent contacted the district by email on June 4, 2009, expressing disappointment the district had not provided support to allow the student to participate in the graduation rehearsal. The district responded the same day, letting the parent know if the student still wanted to participate in the graduation ceremony on June 7, 2009, they could make necessary arrangements. A cell phone number was provided for the student to contact if the student decided to participate. The student did not contact the district and did not participate in the graduation ceremony. Participation in a district’s graduation ceremony is not required. The district appropriately provided the student with the opportunity to participate in the extracurricular activity of the district’s graduation ceremony.

The district, within 30 days from the date of this decision, must submit to the department, a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure, for all high school students with disabilities, the district properly develops and implements transition services and informs students of the transfer of parental rights. The CAP must also ensure the district appropriately provides parents and adult students a copy of revised IEPs with the notice of placement prior to implementation.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 10/7/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy