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IDEA Complaint Decision 13-013

On March 15, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the XXXXX School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2012-13 school year, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the provision of specially designed instruction and collection of weekly data, and utilized improper restraint procedures with a student with a disability.

On May 8, 2012, the IEP team met and developed the student’s annual IEP. For the 2012-13 school year, the IEP included special education in “literacy instruction using specially designed curriculum in conjunction with general education reading curriculum for 1 class period daily.” The IEP included ten goals, four of which included reports about the student’s progress towards meeting the annual goal to be provided to the parents bi-weekly. The IEP that was developed included positive behavioral interventions, including frequent sensory breaks, visual supports, sign communication system, clear expectations, consistent schedule, positive reinforcement and a behavioral intervention plan to assist the student to label extreme emotional states. The behavior plan was attached to the IEP and required staff to label the student’s emotion, show a visual of the emotion, show the student a visual of coping strategies to use, and give the student a 25 second break to implement the coping strategy when the student showed an extreme emotional state. The IEP team did not anticipate the use of restraint with the student, so it was not included in the IEP.

A school district meets its responsibility to provide a free appropriate public education to each student with a disability, in part, by developing a program that meets the student’s unique needs and implementing the services articulated in the IEP. District staff provided literacy instruction using a variety of instructional resources as specified in the IEP. In some instances, the literacy instruction was broken into segments to accommodate the student’s sensory breaks. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding specially designed instruction in reading.

The IEP must include a statement of measurable annual goals and a description of when periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting those annual goals will be provided. On October 25, 2012, the parents sent a letter to district staff expressing concerns that they were not receiving the bi-weekly reports of progress as required by the IEP. Staff acknowledged that bi-weekly reports were not provided consistently. The district failed to properly provide bi-weekly reports of progress on four of the student’s goals.

On January 25, 2013, the student demonstrated an extreme emotional state when he was present during a heated discussion between district staff. District staff did not use the positive behavioral interventions listed in the IEP during that time. However, the method used was not physical restraint. The district provided evidence that it has provided the required training in physical restraint under the law. The district failed to implement the student’s IEP with regard to the behavioral interventions listed in the IEP, but did not improperly restrain the student.

Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department to ensure reports of the student’s progress on goals are provided to the parents and the behavioral intervention plan attached the student’s IEP is implemented by district staff. 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 5/14/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support