On October 26, 2015, 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 which pertain to the period beginning January 2015, are addressed below.
Whether the district followed proper procedures when the student transferred into the district from an out-of-state school district.
When a student transfers to Wisconsin from another state, the receiving district, in consultation with the parent, must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) without delay. This includes providing special education and related services comparable to the services described in the student’s IEP from the previous district until the new LEA adopts the student’s individualized education program (IEP) (including the evaluation and eligibility determination) from the previous district; conducts an IEP team meeting to review and revise the IEP; or conducts an initial evaluation and then develops and implements a new IEP.
The student transferred to the district from another state on January 21, 2015. The parents contacted the district and provided the student’s IEP before the move. The district consulted with the parents and agreed to provide services comparable to the student’s out-of-state IEP pending review and revision of the IEP. A number of meetings were held to discuss the student’s services. Two of these meetings were IEP team meetings. The first IEP team meeting to review and revise the student’s IEP was held on March 4, 2015. The IEP team did not finalize the IEP during that meeting. The district’s IEP remained in draft form until it was completed during an IEP team meeting on May 18, 2015. The revised IEP and placement went into effect on June 1, 2015, with an end date of October 4, 2015.
The district has policies and procedures in place to ensure timely decisions are made regarding the adoption or review and revision of students’ IEPs upon transfer. Generally the district makes a decision to either adopt the student’s IEP or review, revise, and develop a new IEP within two weeks of a student’s transfer. However, the district’s procedures were not followed in this case. The district did not follow proper procedures when the student transferred into the district from another state because it did not timely decide to either adopt the student’s existing IEP and evaluation, review, revise, and implement a new IEP, or conduct an initial evaluation. It took the district from January 21, until May 18, 2015, to finalize the student’s IEP and placement. The district has appropriately clarified its transfer procedures and no additional corrective action is required for this issue.
Whether the district properly responded to the parents’ requests for an IEP team meeting.
School districts must hold IEP team meetings to review a student’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually. A parent may request an IEP team meeting at any time. The district should grant any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review the student’s IEP. If the district denies a parent request for an IEP team meeting, the district must notify the parent of the refusal in writing, provide a reason for the decision, and inform the parent of the procedural safeguards.
The student’s parents asserted the district failed to respond to their IEP team meeting requests made on May 4, 2015, and June 1, 2015. Following the May 4 request, the parents were contacted and an IEP team meeting was scheduled on May 18, with the invitation sent on May 6. Following the parents’ request on June 1, 2015, the district responded by email on June 10, sharing suggested dates for a meeting. There were several emails between the district and the parents before a mutually agreeable date for the meeting was identified. An IEP team meeting was held on July 2, 2015. The district properly responded to the parents’ requests for IEP team meetings.
Whether the district properly considered extended school year (ESY) services during the summer of 2015.
The student’s out-of-state IEP developed shortly before the student moved, included recommendations that the student receive ESY services for four weeks during the summer of 2015, but did not specify specific services to be provided. During the IEP team meeting on May 18, 2015, the team determined the student required ESY services. When an IEP team decides a student requires ESY services, the team must include a description of the necessary ESY services to be provided, including the amount, frequency, and the duration of the services in the student’s IEP. The IEP developed on May 18, 2015 included seven ESY goals. The IEP included notes indicating ESY would be provided in the district’s regular summer school program, during three days of an out-of-district camp program and at the YMCA. However, the IEP did not document the specific services to be provided. The LEA did not properly determine ESY services for the student during the summer of 2015.
Whether the district properly implemented the student’s IEP.
Upon the student’s transfer, the LEA agreed to provide services comparable to those in the student’s out-of-state IEP until an IEP team reviewed and revised the student’s IEP. The IEP team met and completed its review and revision of the IEP on May 18, 2015, with the revised IEP in effect from June 1, to October 4, 2015. Information provided during the course of the complaint investigation indicates between January 21, 2015, and the end of the 2014-15 school year, the district provided services comparable to those in the student’s out-of-state IEP, with the exception of 6.33 hours of counseling services; paraprofessional support during one field trip; and weekly consultation from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with autism expertise.
The IEP in effect on June 1, 2015, included ESY goals, but did not clearly specify ESY services to address those goals. Although the district provided some services to the student during the summer of 2015, without a clear description of the services to be provided, the district could not properly implement the student’s IEP with respect to ESY. The district has agreed to hold an IEP team meeting in January 2016, to determine and properly document the student’s need for ESY for the summer of 2016.
The student’s schedule did not initially allow for the provision of all of the special education services as listed in the IEP in effect at the start of the 2015-16 school year. Between September 1, and September 27, 2015, the student did not receive 40 minutes daily of academic skill instruction or 20 minutes daily of social skills instruction. Instead, during this 15 day period, the student received special education services about 10 times for between 15 to 48 minutes per session. The student’s schedule was changed on September 27, 2015, and the student began receiving specially designed instruction in academic skills as written and received social skills instruction for 20 minutes, two to four times per week instead of daily for 20 minutes, as required by the IEP. The IEP also included a number of supplementary aids and services, which were all provided. Finally, the IEP required a monthly staff meeting and student observation one hour per week by a support person with autism expertise. Between September 1, and October 5, the district’s autism specialist met with the student’s teacher one time, but did not observe the student or hold a monthly staff meeting. This service was revised in the IEP in effect as of October 5, 2015, to consist of consultation with an autism specialist holding a BCBA license. This service began on October 6, 2015, as per the revised IEP.
The student’s IEP team next met on Sept 23, 2015, to review and revise the student’s IEP. The revised IEP was in effect from October 5, through November 24, 2015. The IEP included specially designed instruction in social skills to be provided 20 minutes daily. Due to a conflict with the student’s extra-curricular club schedule, the student received this service for 20 minutes between two and four times per week instead of 20 minutes daily. In addition, the student received transportation on the regular school bus instead of a cab or van as indicated on the IEP. All had agreed to change this related service, however it was not updated on the final IEP document. This clerical error was corrected on the subsequent IEP. All other special education services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications and supports were provided as written.
The student’s IEP team met again on November 6, 2015, to review and revise the student’s IEP. The revised IEP was implemented on November 24, 2015. As of the date of this decision, all services listed in this IEP have been implemented as written. The district did not properly implement the student’s IEPs between January 2015, and November 24, 2015.
The IEP team will reconvene in January to review and revise the student’s IEP and consider ESY services for the summer of 2016. During this meeting the district must determine whether compensatory services are required as a result of the district’s failure to properly implement the student’s IEP between January 21, 2015, and November 24, 2015, including the failure to properly determine and provide ESY services during the summer of 2015. The district must submit to the department a copy of the revised IEP including documentation of the discussion around the need for compensatory services and the district’s decision regarding ESY services. All IEP services will be stated clearly including an amount, frequency and duration of services. No district-wide corrective action is required because the department determined the noncompliance identified during this complaint investigation 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 12/18/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support