On May 21, 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 covering the 2013-14 school year are identified below.
Developed an individualized education program (IEP) to address the unique needs of a child with a disability, implemented the student’s IEP, and ensured staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP were informed of their specific responsibilities
An IEP is a written statement for a student with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised during an IEP team meeting by a properly constituted IEP team. Each student’s IEP must include a statement of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the disability affects the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum; measurable annual goals designed to meet the student’s disability related needs to enable the student to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; a description of how progress toward meeting annual goals will be measured; and when periodic reports on the progress will be provided to the parent. Each student’s IEP must also include a statement of the special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports for school staff based on each student’s unique needs and an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the student will not participate with nondisabled peers in the regular education classroom and other school activities. Staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP must be informed of their specific responsibilities.
The IEP in effect during the 2013-14 school year was developed in May 2013. The IEP was developed in consultation with all required participants, included all required elements, and was designed to address the student’s unique needs. The IEP was properly developed.
The IEP team determined the student would receive 30 minutes per week of academic monitoring. The team also decided the student’s assignment notebook would be checked, corrected, and initialed daily by staff; the case manager would contact the parents two times per week to update them on the student’s progress and missing work; a syllabus for each class outlining tests and assignments would be emailed to the parents by the end of the first week of each term; and IEP information and teacher expectations would be shared with staff for 30 minutes at the beginning of each term.
The district’s practice is to have a student’s case manager meet with the student’s regular education teachers and discuss the student’s disability, the student’s needs, and the regular education teacher’s responsibilities for implementing the student’s IEP. If the regular education teacher wants a copy of the student’s IEP, the case manager provides a copy. Though they contacted some teachers, district staff admits they did not meet with all of the student’s regular education providers to inform them of their specific responsibilities and did not provide a syllabus to the parent within one week of the beginning of each term.
In October, the parent contacted various staff members and asked that the case manager stop providing the email updates twice a week. Staff, per the parent’s request, stopped providing the twice weekly updates, but the IEP was not revised to reflect this change. The district did not ensure all staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP were informed of their specific responsibilities, and did not fully implement the student’s IEP during the 2013-14 school year.
Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to consider if compensatory services should be provided because of the failure to fully implement the IEP. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must also develop a corrective action plan to ensure staff members responsible for implementing the student’s IEP are informed of their specific responsibilities, and IEPs are implemented as written.
Improperly disclosed student confidential information from a student record
At the beginning of the school year, the district’s electronic IEP system was only accessible to special education teachers. On February 20, 2014, the district changed the system to allow access to all teachers in the district.
Student records, including IEPs, maintained by a school district must be confidential and cannot be disclosed without parent consent except under certain circumstances. One exception is that disclosure may be made to school officials, including teachers, within the agency determined to have legitimate educational interests. An educational agency must use reasonable methods to ensure that school officials obtain access to only those education records in which they have legitimate educational interests. An educational agency that does not use physical or technological controls to access records must ensure that its administrative policy for controlling access to education records is effective and that it remains in compliance with the legitimate educational interest requirement.
The district, in changing access, did not revise its policy or demonstrate that it determined all licensed staff had a legitimate educational interest in all student records. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must review and revise, if appropriate, its policies, procedures and practices to ensure that a pupil record is only available to a licensed staff member who has a legitimate educational interest in that record.
Responded to a parent’s request for an IEP team meeting
In late February 2014, the parent requested an IEP team meeting to review and revise the student’s IEP. The parents of a child with a disability have the right to request an IEP team meeting at any time, and the district should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP meeting. If the district denies the parent request for an IEP team meeting, the district must provide the parent with a notice of refusal. The notice must include an explanation of why the district refuses to grant the request. The district denied the parent’s request but did not provide an explanation as to why the request was denied. Instead the district informed the parent that a reevaluation would be conducted. The district did not properly respond to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure the district properly responds to a parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.
Properly conducted a reevaluation, responded to a parent’s request for additional time during an IEP team meeting, properly documented IEP team decisions, and provided the parent a copy of the student’s IEP prior to implementation
In conducting a reevaluation, the parent must first be provided with a notice of reevaluation. The notice explains the reevaluation process, informs the parents of the IEP team participants, and identifies the functions the IEP team will perform. After the parent receives notice of the reevaluation, IEP team members must conduct a review of existing evaluation data. This review may be conducted without a meeting, and parental consent is not required before conducting this review. IEP team members conducted this review and it was determined no additional assessments were needed. However, this review occurred before the parent was provided with a notice of the reevaluation. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a correction action plan to ensure proper procedures are followed in conducting special education evaluations.
On March 14, 2014, the IEP team met to determine continuing eligibility for special education. During the meeting, the parent requested additional time to consider outside assessments. The district properly granted the parent’s request, and on April 18, 2014, the IEP team meeting was reconvened and determined the student continued to qualify for special education. During this meeting, the IEP team also began to review and revise the student’s IEP. On May 7, 2014, the IEP team met again and finalized the IEP. The IEP properly documented the decisions made in April and May. A copy of the IEP was mailed to the parent on May 10, 2014, and on May 15, 2014, district staff members began implementing the IEP developed on May 7, 2014. The district properly provided a copy of the student’s IEP prior to implementation.
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.
//signed CST 7/18/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support