On April 24, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues, pertaining to events during the 2016-2017 school year, are identified below.
- Whether the district provided required special education services utilizing properly licensed staff.
Each school board must ensure every teacher, aide, or other professional staff holds a valid certificate, license, or permit issued by the department for the position for which the individual is employed before engaging in duties of such a position. The district must ensure professional teaching responsibilities are carried out by a special education teacher who is licensed by the department. The special education teacher was properly licensed through June 30, 2017, for middle childhood through early adolescence cross-categorical special education. The district ensured professional teaching responsibilities were carried out by a special education teacher who was licensed by the department during the 2016-17 school year.
- Whether the district properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability.
The IEP in effect at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year included daily specially designed instruction in math for 15 minutes in the regular education classroom and daily specially designed instruction in reading for 20 minutes in the special education classroom and for 20 minutes in the regular education classroom. On December 14, 2016, the student’s IEP was revised. The IEP team increased the student’s special education instruction in the area of math, adding an additional 15 minutes per day in the special education environment, and also added specialized instruction in writing for 10 minutes per day in the general education environment. The team also increased the amount of the student’s specially designed instruction in reading from 20 to 30 minutes. On March 1, 2017, the student’s IEP team met again and revised the student’s IEP to remove the specially designed math instruction in the regular education environment. On March 23, 2017, this service was added back into the IEP.
Although school administration, special education supervisors, program support staff, regular education staff, and other special education staff in the school provided support to the assigned special education teacher, there is no evidence the services in the student’s IEP were consistently provided. The department’s review of IEP documents, electronic mail communications, and parent and district staff interviews indicate services were inconsistently provided to the student who is the subject of this complaint and other students assigned to the special education teacher. A specific schedule of minutes to serve students was developed in cooperation with the regular education and special education staff. However, assigned special education staff were frequently not present in the regular education classroom to provide the required special education service, and students did not consistently receive special education services in the special education classroom. The student did not consistently receive specially designed instruction in math or reading in either the special education or the regular education environment as described in the student’s IEP. The student’s IEP was not properly implemented during the 2016-17 school year.
- Whether the district improperly made changes to the IEP of a student with a disability outside of an IEP team meeting.
In making changes to a student’s IEP after the annual IEP team meeting for a school year, the parent of a child with a disability and the district may agree not to convene an IEP team meeting for the purposes of making those changes and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP. In January 2017, the student’s special education teacher talked to the student’s parent about adding information to the student’s December 14, 2016, IEP. On January 25, 2017, the parent sent the special education teacher, principal, and regular education teacher an e-mail stating the parents did not want information added to their child’s IEP without an IEP team meeting. On March 1, 2017, an IEP team meeting was conducted and the student’s parents were provided an IEP document that included present level of academic achievement and functional performance information dated January 24, 2017. The district did not send notification to the parents of a change in the student’s IEP without a meeting. The parents did not agree to make this change without an IEP team meeting. The district did not follow the required procedures when changing the IEP.
In March 2017, the parents notified the district of the discrepancies found in the March 1, 2017, IEP. The district reviewed the IEP and removed the January information from the student’s March 23, 2017, IEP, and provided a revised copy to the parents. No further student specific corrective action is required.
Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must revise the current corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure all students’ IEPs are properly implemented. Department staff will continue to work with district staff to develop the CAP and will monitor corrective actions to ensure compliance. In addition, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine compensatory services for not consistently providing special education services to the student during the 2016-2017 school year. The LEA must submit to the department within 10 days from the date of the IEP team meeting, copies of the revised IEP that include a determination of compensatory services. 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.
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.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support