On May 2, 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 whether the district, during the 2014-15 school year, implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the provision of behavioral strategies, supports and interventions, and provided periodic reports that described progress toward meeting the student’s speech goal.
The complaint primarily focuses on events that occurred on April 14, 2015. On that day, two teachers were working in the student’s classroom, and the student became visibly upset in connection with a math assignment. During the math period, one of the teachers assigned the class several math problems and instructed the class to complete the problems before leaving for recess. The teacher often required students to complete tasks before leaving for recess. The teacher also modeled the method for completing the problems and interactively completed a problem with the class.
As the class worked on the assignment, both teachers noticed the student becoming visibly frustrated with the task. The teachers employed several strategies to address the student’s agitation. The teachers reduced the assignment to one question, offered the student breaks and time to process, offered the student the use of an interactive whiteboard, offered the student chewing gum, and encouraged the student to breathe deeply. At some point, the student wrote down an answer to the question, but the answer was illegible, and one of the teachers erased the answer.
When the student’s classmates left for recess, the student had not completed the math problem and continued to exhibit behaviors which indicated a heightened emotional state. The teachers physically distanced themselves from the student in order to provide the student space to deescalate.
Shortly after the recess period started, the student’s parent, who had intended to meet the student during the recess period, arrived at the classroom to look for the student. The student was still emotionally agitated when the parent arrived, and after the parent assisted the student with the math problem, the two left the classroom.
In relevant part, the student’s IEP included the following positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports: visual supports, foreshadowing events to allow processing time, clear expectations and limits, follow through, sensory breaks, and snacks and gum when needed. With respect to the incident on April 14, 2015, the student’s teachers properly implemented the student’s IEP because they foreshadowed events, set clear expectations and limits, ensured follow through, and offered visual supports, chewing gum, and breaks.
The student’s IEP also states that the student will receive supervision during transition times, including the hallway. Throughout the 2014-15 school year, the student’s parent received notifications describing the student’s behavioral infractions. Some of these notices described incidents that occurred during transition times. Notwithstanding these behavioral incidents, the student received supervision during transition times, and the district properly implemented this portion of the student’s IEP.
Finally, the student’s IEP states that the student’s parents will receive quarterly reports about the student’s progress towards meeting annual goals, including speech goals. The parent received quarterly reports regarding the student’s progress towards meeting speech goals. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 6/29/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support