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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-057

On August 20, 2010 (form dated August 17, 2010), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Seymour Community School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which related to the 2009-2010 school year, are whether the district:

  • Properly developed the student’s individualized education program (IEP), including describing the student’s present levels of performance and developing measurable academic and functional annual goals.

On March 25, 2010, the IEP team began the annual review of the student’s IEP, which was completed on May 21, 2010. In conducting an annual review, the IEP team must revise the IEP, as appropriate, to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals, the results of any reevaluation, information about the student provided to or by the parents, and the student’s anticipated needs. The IEP team must also consider special factors, including behavior when it impedes the student’s learning or the learning of others.

The IEP team met for approximately five hours in conducting the annual review. The IEP team reviewed and revised information regarding the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance. Information about his academic progress was provided, as well as some functional information relating to the student’s anxiety levels. During the IEP team meetings, the parent expressed concerns about reading and math, which were documented in the IEP and addressed by the IEP team. Annual goals relating to reading and math were included in the IEP. These goals are measurable and include specific benchmarks. The IEP team also reviewed and revised an annual goal relating to task completion and considered special factors. In the previous IEP, behavior was identified as a special factor, but the student has made progress in this area and behavior was no longer a concern. In conducting the annual review, the IEP team addressed the individualized needs of the student, reviewed and revised the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance, reviewed and revised the student’s annual goals, considered special factors, and addressed the concerns expressed by the parent. The IEP team properly developed the student’s IEP.

  • Properly determined placement

In determining the educational placement of a child with a disability, the district must ensure children with disabilities are educated with children who are nondisabled to the maximum extent appropriate. Removal from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes, with the use of supplementary aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily. During the spring 2010 IEP team meetings, the IEP team considered the individualized needs of the student, and determined the student would receive reading and language arts support 45 minutes every other school day in the special education environment, with the remainder of the day spent in the regular education classroom. The IEP includes numerous supplementary aids and services to support the student in the regular education classroom. District staff noted the student made significant progress during the 2009-2010 school year. The IEP team properly determined placement for the student.

  • Properly changed the student’s IEP regarding the student’s annual goals

During the 2009-2010 school year, the district revised the student’s annual goals during the spring 2010 IEP team meetings and did not change the student’s annual goals outside of an IEP team meeting. The special education teacher, in progress reports, provided information about the student’s progress in other areas, which may have created confusion, but these progress reports were not a revision of the annual goals.

  • Provided additional time to permit meaningful parent participation and timely provided parents with copy of IEP

At the March 2010 IEP team meeting, district staff provided a draft copy of the IEP. Although it is not permissible for an agency to have the final IEP completed before an IEP team meeting, neither state nor federal special education law prohibit using a draft IEP as a way of facilitating review and discussion. When the parent asked for additional time, the district scheduled another IEP team meeting. During this meeting, the IEP team reviewed and discussed the IEP section by section, and the parent participated in this discussion and review. The IEP team met for approximately five hours in conducting the annual review. Although the district provided the parents with a final copy of the IEP, there is no documentation establishing the copy was provided prior to implementation of the IEP. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure parents receive a final copy of the IEP prior to the implementation date.

  • Properly implemented the student’s IEP

The student’s IEPs in effect during the 2009-2010 school year provided several supplementary aids and services, which included shortened assignments when the student felt overwhelmed or frustrated, long-term assignments broken down into chunks, and reviewing and discussing errors on test/assignments when the student received a failing grade. All staff members responsible for implementing the student’s IEP were made aware of these supports. The student’s special education teacher provided a list of the supplementary aids and services, and met regularly with all of the student’s teachers to discuss progress, the student’s needs, and to review the IEP provisions. Interviews with district staff confirmed the student received these supplementary aids and services, as well as the special education services required by the IEP.

The student’s IEP also required contact with parents before a test, contact with parents when the student received a failing grade on a test or assignment, weekly communication with parents via email or a phone call, and a meeting with the parents and core academic teachers every six weeks. The parents were invited to these meetings and district staff contacted the parents. Some of the email contacts may not have reached the parents because the parent’s email address had changed and, for a period of time, staff did not have the new address. Staff then attempted to contact the parents using other methods. In an attempt to coordinate the contacts, the special education teacher began in the spring to combine the weekly updates into one email. This was a more successful way of communication. There may have been some confusion over what was required by the IEP. The teachers did not always contact the parents when the student failed a quiz rather than a test; the parents believed they would be contacted whenever the student received a failing grade. However, because the student is no longer a student in the district, the department will not require an IEP team meeting to clarify this provision. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP during the 2009-2010 school year.

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 10/18/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy