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IDEA Complaint Decision 13-058

On November 6, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Waukesha School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning on November 6, 2012, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP).

Annual IEP team meetings were conducted on November 5, 2012, and October 15, 2013. The November 2012 IEP was in effect until October 28, 2013, and after that date, the October 2013 IEP was in effect.

The November 2012 IEP required the regular education teacher to check the student’s materials at the end of each day to ensure the student had all materials needed for homework. On three occasions, February 6, February 20, and September 19, 2013, the student’s materials were not checked at the end of the day, pursuant to the IEP. The parent notified the district soon after these instances, and the district administrators met with staff who work with the student to review the student’s IEP, implementation of the IEP, staff roles, and compliance concerns. Thereafter, each content area teacher checked the student’s materials daily, and the student’s special education teacher conducted periodic checks, as well. In addition to the daily, in-person check-in system, staff posted the student’s materials online via Google Drive, where the student and the student’s family could access the materials needed for homework, and staff communicated this to the family. The district has taken steps to review its internal controls for the materials and check-in system with staff to ensure the system is more efficiently and effectively organized to meet the student’s needs.

Both IEPs provided that the student’s multi-step projects and writing assignments across all school settings would be broken into parts with clear expectations and due dates communicated to the student’s family. On five occasions, including two in November 2012, one in February 2013, one on September 26, 2013, and one in October 2013, multi-step projects were not broken into parts with clear expectations and due dates communicated to the student’s family. After the parent notified the district of the first November 2012 incident, the student’s special education teacher checked in with student during the class at issue to monitor the student’s progress toward the class goal and to develop any additional supports that might be necessary in order to assist the student in meeting the daily classroom goal. The district provided documentation from the teacher to demonstrate the teacher’s on-going communication with the parents and project outlines that have been sent home since the November 2012 project. District staff met on November 28, to directly address the second November 2012 oversight, and the district reviewed its system of service delivery and emphasized compliance requirements with staff regarding IEP implementation. When the parent notified the district of the oversight in February 2013, the district quickly responded to provide the student extra time to complete the task, and the special education teacher provided additional supports to ensure the student completed the unit. A week after the September 26, 2013 oversight, the district took steps to review the accommodations with staff involved in the incident, and began providing the parent project outlines at least 3 days in advance of an upcoming unit, in addition to making a phone call or sending an email to the parent before projects begin.

In October 2013, staff did not provide communication with the parent regarding an assignment, and the parent raised related concerns that scaffolding for 20 minutes per day was not occurring, as required by the student’s IEP. Soon after the parent contacted the district in October, district administrators met with staff to review expectations, required services in the IEP, and to develop steps to ensure proper IEP implementation. Documentation submitted by the district demonstrates communication and expectations are being provided to the parent, multi-step projects are being broken down, and the student is receiving scaffolding in writing class 20 minutes per day, pursuant to the IEP since the October 2013 error. The district and parent have developed action steps to ensure project outlines are given to and communication occurs with the parent to ensure future compliance, and the parent confirmed the action steps are being followed.

Both IEPs also specified that the regular education classroom teacher was to check-in with the student at the beginning, middle, and end of writing pieces to ensure the student was on track to meet the classroom expectations. The parent questioned whether appropriate check-ins were conducted on February 6 and 9, 2013, and in April 2013, specifically related to project completion and materials being sent home. Based on information provided by the district, the check-ins occurred and the student completed assignments. The district directly responded to the parent’s concerns by uploading materials to Google Drive, which are accessible by the student and parents, to ensure readily available access of materials at home and at school.

Finally, both IEPs provided the student should receive additional time to complete tests, quizzes, and long term projects in the special education classroom. The parent indicated the student had not received additional time to complete a test in October 2013. The district acknowledges the student was given a formative assessment in the regular education environment, was not given extra time, and the regular education teacher misunderstood the specific IEP service. A district administrator met with the teacher who gave the assessment and staff who implement the IEP to review implementation roles and requirements for the student’s special education and related services.

The district failed to implement the student’s IEP on some occasions. The district immediately addressed the implementation problems after it became aware of them by providing compensatory services, clarifying requirements with staff, and conducting weekly and monthly meetings with staff to address the parent’s concerns. In addition, since the complaint was received, district staff maintain on-going communication with the parent, and meet approximately 45 minutes per week and once per month to discuss the student’s IEP, its implementation, and parent concerns regarding the IEP. The district documents the monthly meetings, concerns, and action steps to ensure the student receives a free appropriate public education. The district has completed corrective actions for each instance in which the student’s IEP was not properly implemented, and no additional corrective action is required. This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 12/18/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support