On November 27, 2015, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2015-16 school year, properly changed the placement of a student with a disability; properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) in effect at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year; properly implemented the student’s IEP with regard to transportation; and properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.
Each student identified as a child with a disability must be provided special education and related services, provided at public expense under public supervision and direction, in conformity with an IEP, and meeting the standards of the department. In Wisconsin, it is a duty of the IEP team to develop the student’s IEP and determine the student’s special education placement, including the school building. Placement decisions must be made based on the student’s unique disability-related needs. Required IEP team members include the parent; not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be participating in the regular education environment); not less than one special education provider of the child; and a representative of the local educational agency (LEA). At the discretion of the parent or the district, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child may be included to participate in the IEP team meeting. A district must inform all service providers of their specific responsibilities related to implementing each student’s IEP.
On June 5, 2015, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP, develop an annual IEP and determine placement. The IEP developed was to continue into the 2015-16 school year when the student would move to an intermediate level program. The required IEP team members attended the IEP team meeting including the student’s parent. The parent also invited a county support staff member who attended the meeting. The student’s IEP team determined the services the student would receive and the placement including the school for the 2015-16 school year. On August 13, 2015, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP, and determine placement including changing the location of the student’s school. The student’s parent attended the IEP team meeting with county support staff. Although the IEP team LEA representative had knowledge of the student, the administrative staff assigned to the team to represent the special education teacher and regular education teacher were not teachers of the student and did not have knowledge of the student’s unique needs. The IEP team was not properly constituted, therefore the student’s placement was not properly changed. A meeting with a properly constituted IEP team met to determine the student’s placement on October 5, 2015, and no additional student-specific corrective action is required.
The first day of school for students was September 1, 2015. The special education teacher did not have access to the student’s IEP and staff working with the student were not informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the student’s IEP until mid-September. The student’s IEP included “close adult supervision” which the parents and all school staff understood to mean a one-on-one assistant for the student. On September 8, a one-to-one assistant was provided in the classroom. The student was excused from school between September 15 and October 6. On October 5, an IEP team meeting was conducted to develop an annual IEP and determine continuing placement. All required IEP team members including the student’s parent and county support staff member participated in the meeting. The revised IEP includes specialized transportation and provision of a one-to-one assistant while the student is in school and while riding the bus to and from school. In addition the IEP specifies the time of travel on the bus must not exceed thirty minutes per trip. Although transportation was provided to the student, it was not provided as described in the student’s IEP until November 23. The district did not properly implement the student’s IEP in effect at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year; and did not properly implement the student’s IEP with regard to transportation until November 23, 2015.
A parent may request an IEP team meeting at any time, and a district should respond to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review a student’s IEP. On September 4, the student’s parent requested an IEP team meeting. On September 8 and 24, the parent met with school staff to discuss the student’s needs. At these informal meetings the parent expressed the desire for an IEP team meeting. District staff had difficulty scheduling the meeting due to beginning of the school year IEP training needs and schedules. On October 5, an IEP team meeting was conducted to review and revise the student’s IEP. The district did not respond properly to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.
The district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine if the student should be provided compensatory services due to the delay in implementing the student’s IEP. By February 29, 2016, the district must provide the department a copy of the IEP developed with the IEP team’s decision regarding compensatory services clearly documented. In addition, within 30 days from the date of this decision the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to ensure all IEPs in the district are properly implemented including provision of specialized transportation; district staff have access to students’ IEPs and staff working with children with disabilities are informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing each students’ IEP on the first day of school; and properly constituted IEP teams determine each student’s special education placement, including the school building.
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 1/20/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support