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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-075

On November 23, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Whitewater Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, properly reduced the student’s schedule and properly developed the student’s post-secondary goal.

An individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held for a student with a disability on October 6, 2009, for the purpose of developing an annual IEP, developing a statement of transition goals and services, and determining continuing placement. The student had one annual goal to “develop the skills necessary for transition to the community.” The goal was supported by seven measurable benchmarks that addressed awareness of survival signs, increasing time on task, using a daily visual schedule to plan his day, and increasing his vocational time to three different jobs.

When the student transferred from a residential care center at 18 years of age, the IEP team determined the student’s school programming would consist of three days per week in a setting of half-day academic and half-day vocational. The student is now 19 years old and continues with the original three days per week of school programming. The complainant, who is the student’s legal guardian, alleges the student’s school schedule should be increased to five days per week. The IEP does not provide an explanation of how the student’s individualized needs warrant a reduced schedule. District staff stated the schedule remained reduced because the team believed the student’s annual goal could be accomplished during the shortened schedule. There is no evidence, either through the IEP or staff interviews, that the student’s schedule was reduced based on the student’s unique needs. Furthermore, when a student’s schedule is reduced, the goal should be to return the student to a full-day as soon as possible. The district did not properly reduce the student’s schedule.

Postsecondary goals must be measurable and must address education or training, employment, and, if needed, independent living. The postsecondary goal described in the student’s IEP is “after completion of services provided by K-12 public school, [the student] will continue training in a vocational setting/sheltered work site.” The goal does not address the area of employment. The district did not properly develop the student’s postsecondary goal.

The district must, within 30 days from the date of this decision, develop a corrective action plan to ensure staff understands the requirements for developing postsecondary goals. The district must also conduct an IEP team meeting within 20 days from the date of this decision to determine the appropriate schedule for the student and determine the amount of compensatory services required because of the prior reduced schedule. The district must document in the IEP the IEP team’s decision regarding the student’s schedule and compensatory services considered. The district must submit a complete copy of the IEP to the department when it submits the corrective action plan.

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 1/5/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy