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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-058

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 relate to the 2009-2010 school year, are whether the district:

  • Properly obtained consent from the parent before conducting evaluation activities and properly developed the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) within 30 days from the eligibility determination.

In the fall of 2009, the district conducted a three-year reevaluation of the student. The IEP team determined additional assessment was necessary, and requested parental consent to conduct the testing. The parent provided prior written consent on October 8, 2009, and this included consent for the Gray Oral Reading and the Visual-Perceptual Skills 3 test. The district then conducted testing.

On November 30, 2009, the IEP team determined the student continued to be eligible for special education. The parents had many questions about the assessments, and the IEP team was unable to develop an IEP during this meeting. The IEP team met again on December 17, 2009, to review and revise the student’s IEP based on information from the revaluation, and an IEP was developed within 30 days from the eligibility determination. The parents continued to have concerns, and on January 8, 2010, another IEP team meeting was held with an outside facilitator. At this time, the IEP was reviewed line-by-line and some revisions were made. The parents did not participate in this meeting.

  • Properly reviewed and revised the student’s IEP, including addressing the student’s behavior, considering parent concerns, and considering the parent’s request for extended school year services (ESY).

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, which includes behavior when it impedes the student’s learning or the learning of others. On September 8, 2009, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP. Present level information was reviewed and revised. The present levels of academic achievement correspond to the annual goals for reading and math developed for the student. The goals are measurable and include detailed benchmarks. The IEP does not include information regarding present levels of functional performance. Concerns of the parents were documented in the IEP and addressed primarily through the development of the annual goals and the provision of supplementary aids and services. At the September 8th meeting, behavior was not identified as a special factor.

After the reevaluation was conducted in the fall of 2009, in December the IEP team reviewed and revised the student’s IEP based on the reevaluation information. The student’s present levels were again revised to reflect this new data. Detailed information, regarding both academic and present functional levels, was included in this IEP. The math and reading annual goals were revised, and an additional goal to increase written expression and fluency was added. The student’s annual functional goals were also revised. During this meeting, the student’s behavior was discussed. The IEP team considered outside information provided by the parents and noted there were more behavioral concerns than previous years. The IEP team, consequently, identified behavior as a special factor and developed positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address the behavior. The IEP team also reviewed and revised the student’s special education services, added a related service, and reviewed and revised the supplementary aids and services. The parent also requested tutoring for the student. The district responded to this request by offering tutoring, but the times available were not acceptable to the parent. ESY was not requested, and it was not identified as a need by the IEP team. Although present level information regarding functional performance was not included in the IEP developed on September 8, 2009, this information was provided when the IEP was revised after the reevaluation. The district has also provided training to staff on this issue. No further corrective action is required.

  • 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, and 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. The IEP determined the student would remain in the regular educational environment for most of the school day, with limited removal required in order to support the student. This placement determination was based on the individualized needs of the student and in conformity with the least restrictive environment provisions.

  • Properly afforded the parent an opportunity to participate in an IEP team meeting.

State or federal special education does not address the taping of IEP team meetings and, therefore, a school district has the option to prohibit the use of recording devices. If it does so, the district must provide for exceptions that are necessary to ensure the parent understands the IEP or the IEP process. On January 8, 2010, the parents attempted to tape record the IEP team meeting, but, prior to the meeting, they were informed that district policy prohibited taping unless it was required to accommodate a disability. A parent stated there was a disability, but did not explain how it affected the ability to understand the IEP or the IEP process and why taping was a necessary accommodation. The district informed the parents they could participate in the meeting, but it could not be recorded. The district properly afforded the parent an opportunity to participate in the January 8, 2010, IEP team meeting.

  • Properly afforded the parent an opportunity to participate in an IEP team meeting.

All staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP were informed of the student’s IEP provisions, and staff met on a regular basis to review the IEP requirements. Tests and projects were broken down, and the student was allowed to redo the assignment or test when he did not do well. The student also received organization assistance each day and staff made sure he was aware of the daily assignments. The student received social studies instruction through a reading program that contained social studies content, and the student’s special education teacher collaborated with the social studies instructor to make sure the student was receiving the same content. The student’s parents were informed of the student’s progress and upcoming projects and tests through weekly emails, which were sent every Friday. During a period of time when district staff members were unable to access the parents email because they did not have the parents new email address, staff sent the updates through regular mail. Math probes and writing probes were included in the student’s IEP developed in December 2009, and they were provided after that date. The student was also given tests in small group settings for the core academic classes after that provision was added in the December 2009 IEP. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP.

  • Informed parents of progress the student was making toward meeting annual IEP goals.

The student’s IEP, in effect during the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, states that reports about the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be provided to parents at conferences, IEP team meetings, on report cards, and as often as a nondisabled student’s progress is reported. A written report on progress was given with the student’s report card for every grading period and was given orally during conferences and IEP team meetings. The IEP developed in December stated that progress would be provided to parents every grading period. The reports were given to the parent every grading period and were enclosed with the student’s report card. The district properly informed parents of progress the student was making toward meeting annual IEP goals.

  • Improperly disclosed confidential student information.

District staff inadvertently typed the first name of the student in a section of another student’s IEP. No information about the student was included, and the first name of the student is not uncommon. The district did not improperly disclose confidential student information.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST/AJC 10/19/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy