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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-065

On September 23, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction 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 time period between September 23, 2009, and September 23, 2010, are whether the district:

  • Included in the individualized education program (IEP) statements of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, properly developed measurable annual goals and transition services, and properly considered parent concerns.

At least annually, an IEP team must determine whether the student’s annual goals are being achieved, and review and revise, as appropriate, the student’s IEP. On March 5, 2010, the IEP team met, conducted a reevaluation, and began its annual review of the student’s IEP. In response to continued questions and concerns raised by the parent, IEP team meetings were held to complete the annual review on April 9, April 23, and 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. During the spring 2010 meetings, the IEP team completed a reevaluation of the student and reviewed and revised the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance. During and between IEP team meetings, the parent expressed concerns about the student’s reading, spelling, and writing skills, as well as the student’s self-esteem and frustration level. Parental concerns were addressed by the IEP team and documented on the IEP. The IEP included annual goals relating to reading, writing, and study skills. The IEP goals were revised from the prior year and reflected the IEP team’s review of student needs, parental concerns, and the student’s current levels of performance. The revised goals were measurable and included benchmarks or short term objectives. The IEP team also developed a transition plan, which included measurable post-secondary goals related to education, training, and employment. The transition plan documented age-appropriate transition assessments upon which the transition goals were based, transition services, and a course of study needed to assist the student in reaching the transition goals.

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 annual goals, developed a transition plan, and addressed the concerns expressed by the parent. The IEP team properly developed the student’s IEP.

  • Properly changed the student’s IEP.

Following the student’s reevaluation on March 5, 2010, the district began reviewing and revising the student’s IEP. IEP drafts were shared with the parent at the IEP team meeting held during the spring of 2010, and the team addressed parental concerns regarding proposed IEP revisions. The IEP team’s discussion and decisions regarding the student’s revised special education goals and services are reflected in the final IEP completed on May 21, 2010. The IEP team properly revised the student’s IEP and did not make changes to the IEP outside of an IEP team meeting.

  • Properly implemented the student’s IEP.

School districts must have an IEP in effect for each student with a disability at the beginning of each school year. Staff responsible for implementing a student’s IEP must be aware of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the IEP and of the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the student in accordance with the IEP.

The student’s IEP in effect during the 2009-2010 school year included specially designed instruction in reading and language, a guided literacy and resource period to check the student’s assignments, and work on study, test-taking and note-taking skills. The IEP also included a large number of supplementary aids and services. The complainant believed some of the special education and supplementary aids and services were not implemented as written.

Staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP were informed of the student’s IEP provisions. The student received specially designed reading and language instruction, and the student’s special education teacher provided instruction in study skills and assistance in organizing the student’s work in the context of his general education class assignments. Staff made sure the student was aware of assignments on a daily basis. A number of approaches to have the student complete an assignment notebook were tried; however, the student often refused to complete his assignment notebook. The parent was regularly notified of upcoming tests and missing assignments. Tests and assignments were reviewed, and the student was allowed to redo assignments or tests when he received a grade of C or lower. A number of assistive devices for helping with spelling were introduced to the student prior to this supplementary aid being added to the student’s IEP, which was to go into effect after the student’s 2010-2011 IEP was finalized. The student’s parents were informed of academic progress and behavior at least weekly as per the IEP. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP.

  • Obtained consent from the parent before conducting evaluation activities.

Prior to conducting the student’s reevaluation on March 5, 2010, the IEP team, which included the parent, reviewed existing data and determined additional data were needed and requested parental consent for testing. The parent provided written consent for the evaluation on February 4, 2010. The complainant suggests consent was not given for two of the tests administered to the student as part of the reevaluation.

ior to requesting consent for testing, district staff and the parent engaged in detailed email correspondence about the areas to be evaluated and the specific tests to be administered as part of the reevaluation. One of the tests was misnamed on the consent form, but was understood by both the parent and local educational agency (LEA) as the test administered and referenced in the evaluation report. One other test referenced in the evaluation report was not listed on the notice and request for consent. This was a brief standardized spelling test administered to all students receiving specially designed language arts services from the student’s special education teacher. Consent was not required for administration of the spelling test to the class. The district properly obtained parental consent before conducting evaluation activities.

  • Properly afforded the parent an opportunity to participate in an IEP team meeting and properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.

School districts must hold IEP team meetings to review the child’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually. The parents may request an IEP meeting at any time. A district should respond to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review the student’s IEP. If the district denies a parental request for an IEP meeting, the district must notify the parent of their refusal, provide a reason for the decision, and inform the parent of their procedural safeguards.

The IEP team met on March 5, 2010, to conduct a reevaluation and review and revise the student’s IEP. Three additional meetings were held following the March 5 meeting to address parental concerns and complete the IEP. In total, four IEP team meetings were held between March 5, 2010, and May 21, 2010. The district developed an agenda for each meeting and informed the parent ahead of time that the meetings would be scheduled for one hour. Each section of the IEP was discussed during the course of the meetings, and the parent participated in each meeting.

Following the May 21, 2010, meeting, the parent made several requests for an additional IEP team meeting to address continuing concerns. On June 6, 2010, the district responded in writing to the request by notifying the parent the IEP developed as of May 21, 2010, would be the student’s annual IEP, and no additional IEP team meetings would be held until the following school year. The district provided a reason for the decision stating the IEP developed as of May 21 met the district’s obligation to develop an annual IEP. However, the correspondence did not inform the parent of their procedural safeguards. On September 27, 2010, the parent requested an IEP team meeting. A meeting was scheduled and held on October 8, 2010, to review the IEP with the student’s new teachers. During the meeting, the parent expressed concerns with the IEP. Another meeting was scheduled on October 22 but was cancelled due to a conflict in the parent’s schedule. The meeting was rescheduled and held on November 5, 2010. The district afforded the parent opportunities to participate in IEP team meetings and responded to the parent’s request for IEP team meetings during the time period of the complaint, but did not provide proper notice.

  • Provided the parent with a copy of the current IEP in a timely manner.

At the March 5, 2010, IEP team meeting, district staff provided a draft copy of the IEP to the parents. Additional drafts were shared during the three subsequent IEP team meetings held during the spring of 2010. Neither state nor federal special education law prohibits using a draft IEP as a way of facilitating review and discussion. However, once completed, a district must give the parent a notice of placement and a copy of the student’s IEP. In this case, although the student’s annual IEP was not finalized until after the May 21, 2010 meeting, the district incorrectly provided a notice of placement to the parent after the March 5 IEP team meeting indicating the revisions discussed during that meeting would be implemented on March 6, 2010.

A copy of the finalized annual IEP was attached to the district’s June 8, 2010, letter to the parent notifying the parent the IEP developed as of the May 21 IEP team meeting was the student’s annual IEP. The correspondence did not include an updated placement notice. Although the district provided the parents with a final copy of the IEP, portions of the IEP were implemented prior to June 8. The parent was not provided timely written notice prior to implementing the revised IEP.

  • Informed the parent of progress the student is making toward meeting annual IEP goals.

The student’s IEP, in effect during the 2009-2010 school year, stated reports about the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals would be provided to parents at conferences, IEP team meetings, when the parent logged onto Power School, and as often as a nondisabled student’s progress was reported. The student’s revised IEP finalized on May 21, 2010, indicated progress would be reported to parents every grading period. During the 2009-2010 school year, a written progress report was provided to the parent every grading period, and additional information about the student’s progress was provided at least weekly via email. The complainants believed more detail should have been provided with the reports; however, the information provided was consistent with the student’s IEP. The district properly informed the parents of the progress the student was making toward meeting annual IEP goals.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure the following:

  • When the district notifies parents of its refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of a free, appropriate public education to a student with a disability, it includes all required components in the notice.
  • Following development or revision of an IEP, parents receive a placement notice and final copy of the student’s IEP prior to implementing the IEP.

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 11/19/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy