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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-066

On September 28, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Watertown School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, properly changed the student’s schedule by eliminating a general education choir class.

On March 9, 2009, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held for a student with a cognitive disability for the purpose of evaluation including determination of eligibility, annual IEP development, development of a statement of transition goals and services, and placement. Transition services described a course of study, which included choir as an elective. On the Program Summary, choir was listed with the frequency and amount of 52 minutes Monday through Friday. The location of choir was listed as regular education.

In the complaint, the parents allege the district did not follow their son’s IEP and changed his placement without an IEP team meeting by removing him from the regular education choir. The mother sent an e-mail to the special education teacher on September 9, 2009, requesting information on when choir class was scheduled and the dates of upcoming choir concerts. In response to this e-mail, the music teacher sent an e-mail dated September 10, 2009, informing the parents their son was no longer in choir but had been placed in a special education “music therapy class” scheduled every day for 30 minutes in the choir room.

The student’s IEP provided for choir instruction in a regular education environment for 52 minutes per day. By unilaterally changing the student’s schedule, the district failed to properly implement the IEP and reduced the amount of time the student spent in the regular education environment without an IEP team meeting. The district did not properly change the student’s schedule.

Since the complaint was filed, the district offered and the parents accepted, the opportunity for the student to return to the regular education choir class. Therefore, no further child-specific corrective actions are required. However, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan to the department (for approval) to ensure all district staff understand IEPs are to be implemented, as written, and proper procedures are followed when changed.

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 11/24/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy