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IDEA Complaint Decision 13-011

On February 18, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against XXXXX. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, from April 16, 2012, until January 2013, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) and provided special education utilizing properly licensed staff.

An IEP must specify the amount, frequency, and location of special education services to be provided so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team participants. Districts must ensure staff have access to each of their student’s IEPs and are informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the IEP. The IEP in effect between April 16, 2012, and October 24, 2012, did not clearly specify what special education services the student would receive. As a result, it cannot be determined if the decisions made by the student’s IEP team were implemented.

On October 10, 2012, the IEP team met to conduct an annual review, and the student’s IEP was revised to clearly specify the type, location, and amount and frequency of services related to specialized instruction in reading, written language, math, and self-feeding skills. The IEP’s implementation date was October 24, 2012. Based on documentation and interviews conducted, after October 24th, the district properly implemented the student’s IEP.

The complainant asserts the student primarily received special education services from a special education aide between April 16, 2012, and January 2013. 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 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. A special education aide’s role is limited to working under the direct supervision of a licensed teacher to support the lesson plans of the teacher, provide technical assistance to the teacher, help with classroom control or management, and perform other duties as assigned.

Between April 16, 2012, and June 12, 2012, the special education teacher consistently provided direct instruction to the student. The student’s aide worked with the student and supported the teacher throughout the school day. In addition to providing direct instruction, the special education teacher designed instruction on a day-to-day basis for the student, reviewed and initialed all of the student’s work and the student’s assignment notebook, and developed daily lesson plans. The special education teacher had direct contact with the student, evaluated the services provided, assessed the student’s learning, and prepared a daily report which was sent home to the student’s parents. To meet the student’s unique needs, the special education teacher consulted with a specialist in the student’s disability area and collaborated with two additional special education teachers to evaluate her performance, and to enhance the specialized instruction provided to the student. Further, the special education teacher consulted with the aide each day in the morning, throughout the day, and after school to develop and explain lesson plans, provide and review assignments, and evaluate the student’s progress.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to consider whether compensatory services are required because of the failure to properly specify the special education services between April 16, 2012, and October 24, 2012. The district must submit to the department a copy of the student’s IEP documenting consideration of compensatory services. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 4/19/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support