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IDEA Complaint Decision 14-011

On March 7, 2014, 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 2013-14 school year, properly determined the amount of speech and language services, properly developed an individualized education program (IEP) to address the student’s individualized needs, including transition services, properly determined the student’s placement in the least restrictive environment, and properly implemented the student’s IEP.

The student is 17 years old and attends a high school within the school district. On May 6, 2013, the student’s IEP team met to conduct an annual review and determine placement. The IEP team included the speech and language therapist, and the team reviewed the student’s progress and noted the student had reached a plateau. The speech and language therapist recommended reducing the amount of services, so the student would have more opportunity to practice speech in other settings and to use the iPad for communication. The IEP team also determined the student needed more time to work on independent living and vocational skills. The IEP team reduced the amount of speech and language services from 150 to 120 minutes per week, and in January 2014, the amount of speech and language services was further reduced to 90 minutes. The student’s aide attends the speech and language sessions and reinforces the instruction throughout the school day. In determining the amount of services, the IEP team considered evaluations, the student’s progress, and observations. The decision to reduce the amount of services was not based on caseload, but rather on the individualized needs of the student. The student has not shown any regression during the 2013-14 school year, and staff have observed the student using vocabulary words more spontaneously over more settings. The IEP team properly determined the amount of speech and language services.

The student’s IEP in effect for 2013-14 provides for direct instruction in core academic classes in the morning. In the afternoon, from 12:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. the student attends an out-of-district worksite/program three days a week, and attends art and music on the other two days of the week. The worksite is solely for individuals with disabilities. For the last period of the day, the student works on independent living skills. The student also receives physical therapy and occupational therapy as related services. The student’s IEP was developed based on the individualized needs of the student. Direct instruction is provided because of the level of distractibility and continual need for prompts and redirection.

The IEP team determined that the worksite best met the student’s needs because it provided for training in a variety of jobs and provided instruction in life skills. In addition, the IEP team determined that the worksite would foster independence, while still providing structure, and allow the student to practice communication skills in other settings. The IEP team considered other options, but determined this was the most appropriate placement and least restrictive environment for the student based on the student’s individualized needs. The IEP team properly developed an IEP and determined placement based on the student’s individualized needs and in the least restrictive environment.

The student’s IEP was implemented as required. The iPad is provided and used throughout the school day. The student does not initiate its use on the student’s own, but staff members have been instructed on assisting the student and providing prompts. This is done throughout the school day.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 5/6/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support