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IDEA Complaint Decision 15-018

On March 19, 2015 (form dated March 16, 2015), the Department of Public Instruction (department) 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 concerning the 2014-15 school year and are addressed below.

Properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP)

The student’s IEP in effect for the 2014-15 school year includes 20 minutes of psychological services one time per week. The related services provided by the psychologist include social skills support in the areas of appropriate peer contact, self advocacy, personal space, and foreshadowing. Based on staff interviews, these psychological services were provided in accordance with the student’s IEP.

The IEP also includes supplementary aids and services specific to modified work. The supplementary aid and services is stated as “use of modifications and accommodations to regular education curriculum 100% of the time daily from 8:00 a.m.-3:18 p.m.” Interviews with district staff indicate that all staff did not consistently implement the student’s IEP regarding modified assignments in part because the IEP was not written in a manner that was clear enough to be implemented. Some staff members were unaware that assignments were required to be modified, and others were unclear what modifications were required. School districts must ensure that each regular education teacher, special education teacher, related services provider, and any other service provider who is responsible for the implementation of a child’s IEP is informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the child’s IEP. In addition, the services must be clearly described in the IEP in a manner that can be understood by all those involved in implementing the IEP. The district did not consistently implement the student’s IEP specific to modified assignments. In this case, it was unclear what modifications were required and those that were provided, were provided inconsistently.

Properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting

School districts must hold IEP team meetings to review a child’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually. A parent may request an IEP team meeting at any time. The district should respond to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review the student’s IEP. If the district denies a parental request for an IEP team meeting, the district must notify the parents of their refusal in writing, provide a reason for the decision, and inform the parents of their procedural safeguards.

In January, the parent requested an IEP team meeting to address concerns regarding the student’s academic performance and testing accommodations. The district met with the parent on January 29 to address the concerns; however, the district did not hold an IEP team meeting or provide written notification of refusal. The district did not properly respond to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.

Properly responded to a parent’s request to contact the student’s therapist and contract with an outside consultant

During the 2014-15 school year, the parent requested that the district contact the student’s therapist and work with an outside consultant. Documentation provided by the district demonstrates that several staff members did speak with the student’s therapist. However, the district verbally denied the parent’s request to contract with an outside consultant. The IEP team’s decision regarding the parent’s request for an outside consultant is not documented in the student’s IEP or on the placement notice. The district did not properly document the IEP team’s decision regarding the parent’s request to contract with an outside consultant.

Properly followed special education disciplinary requirements

If a student with a disability has been removed for more than 10 school days in the same school year, then the school district must provide services. The services must enable the student to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting the student’s IEP goals. School districts must have procedures in place to record and count disciplinary removals including, but not limited to, expulsions, out of school suspensions, certain in-school suspensions, and de facto suspensions occurring when the school district removes a student from school or class for not following school rules but does not refer to it as a suspension.

The student’s attendance record indicates the student was suspended five times from school and was picked up by the parent two and one half days. Since the suspensions did not exceed 10 school days, the special education disciplinary requirements did not apply. The other removals are not considered disciplinary removals because they are in accordance with the student’s IEP.

Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine whether compensatory services are required as a result of the district’s failure to implement the student’s IEP regarding modifications and accommodations and to revise the student’s IEP to ensure supplementary aids and services are clearly stated. In addition, within 30 days of the date of this decision the district must submit proper documentation of the denial of an IEP team meeting and proper documentation of the refusal to contract with an outside consultant. Within five days from the date of the IEP team meeting, the district must submit to the department a copy of the IEP and documentation of the discussion around compensatory services. No district wide corrective action is required because the department determined the noncompliance was child specific.

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 5/18/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support