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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-067

On October 1, 2010 (form dated September 28), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Shawano School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, from October 1, 2009, through October 1, 2010:

  • Properly responded to a parent’s request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting

On June 2, 2010, the IEP team conducted an annual review of the student’s IEP. Although the district afforded the parent the opportunity to participate, the parent did not attend the June 2 meeting. The parent, through electronic mail, requested a second IEP team meeting take place sometime in August, September, or October 2010. On October 25, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the child’s IEP, and the parents attended. An additional meeting was held on November 3 and another one was set for November 22, which was cancelled. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.

  • Properly informed the parent of the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals

According to the child’s IEP in place during the 2009-2010 school year, the parent must be informed of the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals at the end of each trimester. This was provided to the parent. In addition, the student’s teacher indicated the parent was regularly informed of their child’s progress in the general curriculum and environment through a “daily sheet” record completed by staff working with the child. A three-ring binder of all “daily sheet” records and parent communications was kept by the teacher during the 2009-2010 school year. The district informed the parent of their child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals.

  • Properly considered extended school year (ESY) services

The district is not required to consider ESY services for each child at an IEP team meeting. If ESY services are an issue, raised by a parent or another IEP team participant, then the IEP team members must determine whether the child requires ESY services in order to receive a free appropriate public education. On April 4, 2010, the child’s IEP case manager emailed the parent and asked if the child would be attending summer school. The parent returned a response asking about the availability of adult assistance during the summer school session, and the child’s IEP case manager responded. The parent did not request consideration of ESY services, and district staff did not believe they were required. The child attended summer school from June 21 through July 23, 2010, with adult assistance provided by the district. On July 6, the parent contacted the special education director to ask why her child was not receiving ESY services. The director responded the next day and explained staff did not believe the child needed ESY services. After receiving the director’s response, the parent did not request ESY services be considered. The district was not required to consider ESY services for the student.

  • Properly implemented the student’s IEP

The student’s IEPs in effect provide for 100 minutes of speech/language therapy per week. This was provided as required by the IEP. Staff members noted when a therapy session was missed, the session would always be made up. Both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 IEPs state, under the supplementary aids and services section, “Adult assistance during small group or individual academic tasks, recess, lunch, bathroom breaks, transitions, and specials.” Adult assistance was also provided as required.

However, the IEP, under the supplementary aids and services section, states that for additional supports please refer to the Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (present levels). An IEP must be written in a way that clearly states the amount of time committed to each service. The level of the district’s commitment of resources must be clear to the parent and all involved in developing and implementing the IEP. It is difficult to determine from the present levels what additional supports are required for this student. In this case, the district did not properly state the child’s supplementary aids and services in a clear and understandable manner. The district must, within 30 days from the date of this decision, conduct an IEP team meeting to revise the student’s IEP so the supplementary aids and supports are clearly described. The district must also, within 30 days from the date of this decision, develop a corrective action plan to ensure that special education staff clearly describe the supplementary aids and services, including the amount and frequency.

  • Provided services utilizing properly licensed staff, and properly informed staff of their responsibility for implementing the IEP

The parent alleges the special education paraprofessional was not informed of her IEP responsibilities at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. The parent emailed the district staff on June 1, August 8, 31, and September 1, 2010, to request information about the newly hired paraprofessional. The special education director responded on September 1 and indicated the paraprofessional would work under the supervision of a licensed teacher or therapist. He also stated the IEP case manager would meet with the paraprofessional on a routine basis regarding the child’s goals and needs. The child’s IEP case manager met with the paraprofessional on September 1 during the morning to review the IEP responsibilities. The paraprofessional has regular access to the special education team members and the regular education teacher for guidance in implementing the child’s IEP and following appropriate education-based practices for the child. The current IEP states, under program modification or supports for school personnel, “consultation between staff” will be provided weekly for 15 minutes; and this was followed. The individual hired as the special education paraprofessional has the required Special Education Program Aide license. The district provided services utilizing a properly licensed staff member. The district also properly informed the special education paraprofessional of responsibilities for implementing the child’s 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 11/30/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy