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IDEA Complaint Decision 15-037

On May 8, 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: properly responded to the parent’s request for revisions to the individualized education program (IEP); properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding testing accommodations, services to meet the student’s sensory needs, and a behavior monitoring form; and properly responded to the parent’s request for a special education evaluation.

Properly responded to the parent’s request for revisions to the IEP
IEP teams must meet at least annually to review the IEP for each student with a disability. In making changes to a student’s IEP after the annual IEP team meeting, the parent and the district may agree not to convene an IEP team meeting and instead develop a written document to amend or modify the student’s current IEP.

In September 2014, district staff and the parents met to develop a plan to encourage effective and clear communication between school and home. The student’s parents and the district were in frequent communication outside of IEP team meetings including emails, letters, and telephone calls. The student’s IEP team met four times during the 2014-15 school year, including a facilitated IEP team meeting to complete the reevaluation on March 5, and a facilitated meeting to develop the student’s annual IEP on March 16, 2015.

On April 17, 2015, the student’s parent contacted the district via email and requested a phone conference to discuss changes to the student’s IEP. The phone conference was held on May 1, 2015. The parents sent the district a written list of concerns regarding the student’s IEP prior to the phone conference. The district addressed each concern during the conference, but did not agree to amend the IEP as a result of the conference. On May 15, 2015, the district and the parent held another phone conference during which both parties agreed to amend the student’s IEP without a meeting. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for revisions to the IEP.

Properly implemented the student’s IEP
The student’s IEP indicates the student was to receive a number of accommodations for all assessments, including all items read aloud; extended time; alternate environment; small group administration; repeated or reworded directions; comprehension checks regarding directions; quiet environment; breaks; access to any assistive technology the student uses on a regular basis; calculator and/or manipulatives; and when appropriate, word banks or chunking.

The district acknowledges two incidences where accommodations were not provided when the student took assessments. In both instances, the student completed the assessments again with the proper accommodations in place. No further corrective action is required.

Occupational therapy was added as a related service to the student’s IEP on March 16, 2015. The IEP indicates the occupational therapist would work directly with the student on self-regulation techniques for 20 minutes, one time per week, for three weeks each month, beginning on March 17. Between March 17, and May 20, 2015, the occupational therapist worked with the student six sessions of 20 minutes each and one additional 30 minute session, for a total of 150 minutes. During that same time period, the student should have received 160 minutes total of occupational therapy. The student was absent from school for the last two weeks. The district indicated the small amount of missed occupational therapy would have been provided during the last two weeks of school had the student been in attendance. The district properly implemented the IEP regarding direct service from the occupational therapist.

According to the IEP developed on March 16, 2015, the student had a goal of appropriately using tools in the classroom with less than one verbal prompt. The student was allowed to use “fidget” toys in the classroom to address sensory needs. On April 30, district staff asked the student to put his fidget toy away after staff determined the student was using the toy inappropriately and not completing class work. On May 15, 2015, the parents and district agreed to amend the IEP without a meeting, clarifying that when the student used fidget toys inappropriately the student would be given a warning and if the inappropriate behavior continued, the student would be asked to put the fidget toy away. The district properly implemented the IEP regarding fidget toys.

The student’s IEP indicates a behavior monitoring form would be signed by teachers and sent home daily for the duration of the IEP. The IEP also indicates district staff would assist the student in utilizing the form until the student could do it independently. The parent noted several instances beginning in April 2015, when the monitoring form was either not filled out completely or was not sent home. The district failed to consistently implement this portion of the student’s IEP.

Properly responded to a parent’s request for a special education evaluation
A reevaluation must be conducted if the district determines that the education or related services needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance of the student, warrant a reevaluation. A reevaluation must also be conducted if requested by the student’s parent or teacher. An IEP team meeting must be conducted to determine eligibility within 60 days after the district’s receipt of parental consent for evaluation or notification to the parents that no additional assessments are needed.

The student was identified as a student with a disability prior to the 2014-15 school year. In October 2014, the student received a new medical diagnosis and the parent sent an email to a district staff person requesting a reevaluation to consider the student’s eligibility under an additional area of educational impairment. The district responded to the parent’s email, indicating the review of existing evaluation data to determine whether additional assessments would be needed would begin as soon as school staff received a copy of the full report of the student’s medical diagnosis. The district should have initiated an evaluation immediately following the parent’s request for the evaluation.

The parents provided the medical report during an IEP team meeting held on November 25, 2014. The district sent the parents a “Notice of Reevaluation” on December 5, 2014. The district received a signed consent to administer additional assessments on December 23, 2014. The district and the parents agreed to hold a facilitated IEP team meeting to determine eligibility which complicated scheduling. An IEP team meeting to determine the student’s eligibility in the additional impairment area was held on March 5, 2015. The district did not complete the evaluation within 60 days of receiving the parent’s consent for additional testing.

As corrective action, the district is required to hold an IEP team meeting prior to the commencement of the 2015-16 school year to consider whether compensatory services are required due to the delays in the evaluation process and the failure to consistently implement the behavior monitoring form. The district must submit documentation of the consideration of compensatory services and, if applicable the revised IEP to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting. The district must also develop a corrective action plan within 30 days of this decision to ensure reevaluations are not delayed and are completed timely, and all IEPs are properly implemented.

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 7/6/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support