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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-075

On November 16, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the West Bend Joint School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2010-2011 school year, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the use of assistive technology and addressing annual goals related to peer interaction and properly determined placement.

Each school district must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, are made available to a child with a disability if required as part of the child’s special education, related services, or supplementary aids and services. The student’s IEP developed on June 10, 2010, and in effect during the 2010-2011 school year, identifies the need for assistive technology as a special factor and states the use of technology will be explored to “supplement functional communication and to expand learning opportunities.” However, although identified as a need, the student's IEP lacks sufficient detail and does not specify the frequency, amount, location, and duration to be committed to assistive technology. In the beginning of the 2010 school year, the student was provided with a speech-generating device which was used daily for facilitating communication. It cannot be determined whether this usage was consistent with IEP team decisions because of the lack of specificity in the IEP. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to revise the student’s IEP to clearly describe the use of assistive technology, including the frequency, amount, location, and duration. Within ten days of the meeting, the district must submit to the department a revised copy of the student’s IEP.

There are two annual goals and multiple benchmarks addressing peer interaction. For example, one goal states the student will “interact with a peer by maintaining personal space boundaries and demonstrating turn-taking in 3/5 opportunities with moderate levels of support.” Benchmarks include independently greeting peers “using functional communication skills in 3/5 opportunities,” and maintaining an “interaction with a peer by demonstrating turn taking skills for 3 turns in 3/5 opportunities with the use of verbal and visual cues.” These goals are addressed in multiple settings throughout the school day, including a weekly social skills group, lunchroom, recess, the special education classroom and the regular education classroom. The student, for example, works on these goals through board games with peers, through group projects, and staff initiated conversations with peers. Staff members are also working with the student in greeting peers when he enters the lunchroom, special education and regular education classrooms, and recess. The district addressed annual goals related to peer interaction.

Each school district must ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are nondisabled; 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. In Wisconsin, placement determinations are made by the IEP team. The student is in the regular classroom environment for morning activities, science, social studies, and specials. He receives instruction in the special education classroom for reading and math. The IEP team identified numerous supplementary aids and services to assist the student in the regular education classroom, including the assistance of a one-on-one aide throughout the school day. The IEP team also determined that the student required instruction in math and reading in the special education environment because these were more difficult subjects for him and he needed a smaller class size, and more supports than could be provided in the regular education classroom. The student’s IEP also provides for sensory breaks in the special education classroom. The IEP determined sensory breaks were required for the student to address behaviors and regain focus for academic tasks. The school district properly determined placement for the 2010-2011 school year.

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 12/17/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy