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IDEA Complaint Decision 14-040

On June 23, 2014, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in September 2013, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the provision of a one-to-one aide.

Parents are equal participants in the development of the IEP for their child with a disability. However, the school district has the ultimate responsibility to ensure the IEP includes services the student needs to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). School districts must provide parents of students with disabilities prior written notice of any decision proposed by the school district to change the provision of FAPE, including a description of the action proposed by the district, an explanation of why the district proposes to take the action, a description of other options the IEP team considered and the reasons why those options were rejected, a description of any other factors relevant to the district’s decision, and a statement indicating parents have the right to seek resolution of any disagreements by initiating an impartial due process hearing.

An IEP developed on May 16, 2013, was in effect for the student at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The IEP indicated the student’s disability caused difficulty in paying attention, regulating emotions, socializing appropriately with peers, and interference with the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. The IEP included the supplementary aid and service of a one-to-one aide for six hours per day to assist the student in maintaining attention, staying on task, remaining focused, and refraining from inappropriate socialization. The projected implementation dates of the services were May 16, 2013 through May 15, 2014. The district acknowledges the one-to-one aide was not provided from September 3-17, 2013, and that the decision to discontinue provision of the one-to-one aide was not made at an IEP team meeting.

The student’s IEP team met on September 17, 2013, and again on September 20, 2013. The revised IEPs described the student’s same disability-related difficulty in maintaining attention, regulating emotions, and socializing appropriately with peers as the IEP developed on May 16, 2013. The IEPs did not, however, include the provision of a one-to-one aide. Neither the IEPs nor their associated notices of placement included any explanation of why the one-to-one aide was discontinued or whether any other options, including continuing the one-to-one aide, were considered. The district did not provide adequate prior written notice of the decision to change the provision of the student’s FAPE regarding the provision of the one-to-one aide.

On December 19, 2013, the student’s IEP team met to review the student’s IEP and to consider whether a one-to-one aide was needed or if compensatory services were required given the discontinuation of the provision of the one-to-one aide on September 3, 2013. The IEP team discussed data regarding the student’s progress and determined the student did not demonstrate a need for the one-to-one aide. The IEP team determined the student did not need compensatory services since the regular education teacher, special education teacher, speech and language pathologist, and school social worker provided services which allowed the student to make progress. The IEP provides documentation of this determination, and adequate prior written notice was provided. No student-specific corrective action is required.

By September 19, 2014, the district is directed to develop a corrective action plan to ensure decisions are made through an IEP team meeting, IEPs are properly implemented, and adequate written notice is provided. The corrective action plan must include a plan for training all special education supervisory staff in the correct application of these requirements during the first semester of the 2014-15 school year.

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 8/22/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support