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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-067

On October 1, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Watertown Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding two general education classes and properly responded to the parent’s request for an aide.

On December 11, 2008, an 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 during the 2009-2010 school year. On the Program Summary, choir was listed with the frequency and amount of 52 minutes Monday through Friday in the regular education classroom. Basic foods class was listed in the IEP as the second general education class for the first semester of the 2009-2010 school year. The student attended this class during the first semester.

In the complaint, the parents allege the district did not follow their son’s IEP when he was removed from the regular education choir class. The mother spoke with the special education teacher asking how choir class was going for her son, and the teacher told the mother the son was no longer in regular education choir. The student was placed in a special education music therapy class, without the knowledge of the parents, at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.

An IEP team meeting was held on October 19, 2009, for the purpose of addressing the issues of the complaint. The parent requested the student not return to the regular education choir class. It was decided the student would continue in the special education music therapy class. In order to provide two regular education classes, the student was placed in a regular education drawing class.

The parent requested individual assistance for the student in his regular education classes in the complaint. There was no formal request to the district prior to the filing of the complaint. When the IEP team reconvened on October 19, 2009, the IEP team discussed the provision of additional support in regular education classes, and the IEP team, including the parent, determined the provision of a mentor for the student would address the student’s needs. The district has since provided this mentor during the student’s regular education classes. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for individual conference for the student.

The student’s IEP provided for two regular education classes, and specifically 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. Since the complaint was filed, the IEP was revised. 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 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