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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-066

On October 1, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the West Salem School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, from December 2009 through June 2010:

  • Properly utilized licensed staff in providing speech and language services.

Current Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) licensing requirements for speech and language pathologists (SLPs) are a Master’s level SLP. DPI considers emergency applications for the upcoming school year only after districts make every effort to fill vacancies with fully licensed candidates. Beginning on November 5, 2009, the district continuously posted for a licensed SLP position in anticipation of a retirement on December 15, 2010. After an exhaustive search for a fully licensed Master’s level SLP, the only candidate to apply had a bachelor’s level degree in communicative disorders. DPI approved an emergency license for the candidate. Although not required, a Master’s level SLP regularly supervised the candidate. The district properly utilized licensed staff in providing speech and language services.

  • Properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding speech and language services.

The replacement SLP began providing 20 minute sessions two times per week beginning on December 17, 2009. The parent first learned of the staffing change in March 2010, when the SLP called to introduce herself as the replacement SLP. The mother asked the SLP whether the student was receiving the 30 minute sessions three times per week, as stated on the student’s IEP. The mother states the SLP admitted the student was only receiving 20 minute sessions two times per week.

The district acknowledges the full extent of the speech and language services was not provided to the student from December 16, 2009, through June 3, 2010. During this time period, the student missed 50 minutes of speech and language services per week for 20 weeks and 25 minutes per week for two weeks. The total amount of service missed was 1050 minutes.

The district must reconvene the IEP team meeting within 30 days of the date of this decision to determine whether or not compensatory services are needed and, if so, how much compensatory services are needed. Compensatory services should aim to remedy educational deficits that resulted because of a failure to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A copy of the complete IEP, including documentation of the discussion of compensatory services, must be submitted to DPI no later than 15 days following the IEP team meeting. The district did not properly implement the student’s IEP regarding speech and language services from December 2009 to June 2010.

  • Properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding starting new skills with someone familiar and allowing interaction and socialization with student-selected peers during the 2010-2011 school year.

An IEP team meeting was held on October 22, 2009, for the purpose of developing an annual IEP, reviewing and revising an IEP, and determining placement. This is the IEP in place during the time period outlined in the complaint. The IEP must include a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to meet the student’s needs that result from the student’s disability to enable the student to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum and meet each of the student’s other educational needs that result from the student’s disability. One annual goal stated in the IEP was: “Within the school environment, [the student] will develop his ability to interact socially with both peers and adults in 3 of 5 opportunities, and will demonstrate increased ability to master basic functional skills in 7 of 10 opportunities.” Five measurable short-term objectives support this goal. This goal in the IEP is measurable, but did not include any language related to student-selected peers. The district has provided opportunities for social interaction with both peers and adults during the period from December 2009 to June 2010. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP to develop his ability to interact socially with both peers and adults.

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 11/30/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy