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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-064

On September 22, 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 individualized education programs (IEPs) in effect during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, are whether the district:

  • Properly developed the student’s IEP, including considering parent concerns, describing the student’s present levels of performance, and developing measurable academic and functional annual goals.

On September 22, 2009, the IEP team conducted an annual review of the student’s IEP. On May 13, 2010, the IEP team conducted another annual review of the student’s IEP, which was completed on May 26. 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.

In each of the IEP team meetings, the 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 motivation, self-confidence, and ability to follow school rules. During the IEP team meetings in May 2010, the IEP team discussed, reviewed, and revised the annual goals relating to reading, written language, and math. These goals are measurable and include specific benchmarks. Concerns of the parent were documented in the IEP and addressed primarily through the development of annual goals and the provision of supplementary aids and services. The IEP team also considered special factors and determined the student’s behavior did not impede his learning. On October 13, 2010, the student’s IEP was revised and now identifies behavior as a special factor and provides positive behavioral interventions and a behavior intervention plan. In each of the IEP team meetings, the 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, considered parent concerns, described the student’s present levels of performance, and developed annual goals.

  • 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 team 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 changed the student’s IEP regarding the student’s reading curriculum.

In November of 2009, the district changed the curriculum it used with the student during special education services. The IEP in effect at the time of the change called for 60 minutes per day of reading, written language, and spelling in a special education resource room. The student received these special education services as required in the IEP. Educational methodology is a set of working methods or techniques, procedures and rules used in the education of children. Decisions about educational methodology are not required to be included in the IEP. The district was not required to change the student’s IEP when it changed the student’s special education reading curriculum.

  • Provided the parent an opportunity to participate in an IEP meeting.

At the September 2009 and May 2010 IEP team meetings, 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. During these meetings, the IEP team reviewed and discussed the IEP section by section, and the parent participated in this discussion and review.

  • Properly implemented the student’s IEP.

Services must be stated in the IEP so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team participants. The IEPs in effect for the student during the 2009-10 school year included 30 minutes and 30-60 minutes of math instruction each day in the resource room. The 30-60 minute range is too wide to make the agency’s commitment of resources clear to the parent and those responsible for the implementation of IEP. Interviews with district staff confirm the student received at least 30 minutes daily of math instruction from a special education teacher in the resource room for the first half of the 2009-10 school year.

The student’s IEPs also provided several supplementary aids and services which included redirect back to task, preferential seating, highlighted social studies book, extended time on assignments, help with organizational skills, and help and modifications when task was above student’s functional level. However, the supplementary aids and services do not provide the required specificity for implementation of the IEP. The supplemental aids and services are written as a list and do not include a frequency and amount. On October 13, 2010, the IEP team met and rewrote the IEP, and it includes sufficient detail so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources is clear to parents and other IEP team participants. On August 16, 2010, the district conducted an in-service, which addressed the requirement for describing supplementary aids and services with the necessary specificity.

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

//signed CST 11/15/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy