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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-068


On October 7, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Waupaca School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, in the fall of 2010, improperly disclosed confidential student information and properly determined placement and special education services.

On September 23, 2010, a county caseworker contacted a district staff member regarding another student with a disability. During the course of the conversation, the staff member initiated discussion about the child’s educational program. On September 27, the same district staff member called an outside therapist to discuss the child’s educational program. There was no parental consent given to the district staff member.

A school district may disclose personally identifiable information from a pupil record under three circumstances: 1) written consent from a parent, guardian or adult pupil; 2) receipt of a court order; or 3) by authority of statute. In this case, the staff member disclosed personally identifiable information regarding a child with a disability to a non-district employee without written parental consent, and none of the limited exceptions to obtaining parental consent applied.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district will submit to the department a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure staff understand their obligation to maintain student confidentiality.

On September 13 and 15, 2010, an annual individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held to review and revise the child’s IEP. During the IEP team meeting, the parents informed the IEP team they wanted their child in the regular education classroom and the general education curriculum to the greatest extent possible. To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities must be educated with children who are nondisabled. 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 most appropriate placement for the student is a special education classroom. The student was with regular education peers during the opening of the day, recess, lunch, specials, snack, and playtime. The IEP team considered different placement options, including the regular educational environment. However, the IEP team determined the student’s behavior was too severe, even with supplementary aids and services, to be in the regular education classroom for the entire day.

While the IEP team properly determined placement for the student, the IEP developed does not address the specially-designed instruction required for the student. The September 15 IEP stated, under special education services, the child will be provided a special education program in the regular and special education classrooms, playground, lunchroom, and occupational therapy. This merely reiterates the placement decision, and it is too vague to identify the district’s commitment of resources and for staff to implement.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine the special education services required for the student, based on the student’s individualized needs, and send the department a copy of the revised 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 12/06/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy