On December 1, 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 2015-16 school year:
- properly determined whether the student’s behavior impedes the student’s learning;
- properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding transition services and specially designed math instruction; and
- properly conducted procedures for measuring the student’s progress toward meeting annual IEP goals.
An IEP is a written statement for each student with a disability that includes a statement of measurable annual goals designed to meet the student’s needs that result from the student’s disability. The school district must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each student with a disability by developing a program that meets the student’s unique needs, documenting that program in the IEP, and implementing the program articulated in the IEP. IEP teams must include a local educational agency (LEA) representative who is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum.
On August 21, 2015, the IEP team met to review and revise the student’s IEP, develop a transition plan, and determine the student’s placement prior to the student’s transition from middle school to high school. The LEA representative and regular education teacher were from the middle school, and the special education teacher was from the high school.
IEP teams are required to consider whether a student’s behavior impedes the student’s learning or that of others, and if so, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies to address that behavior. The consideration must be based on the student’s unique disability-related needs, and not the student’s identified impairment area(s). During the August 21 IEP team meeting, district staff inaccurately informed the parent that IEP teams may only consider behavior as a special factor if the student has been identified as meeting criteria for a specific impairment area or if the student’s behavior disrupts others. The district did not properly consider whether the student’s behavior impedes the student’s learning. Within 20 days of the date of this decision, the district must reconvene the IEP team meeting to determine whether the student’s behavior impedes his learning, and if so, include positive behavioral interventions, supports, and other strategies to address that behavior. A copy of the updated IEP must be submitted to the department no later than 10 days following the IEP team meeting.
The amount of time to be committed to each service included in a student’s IEP must be appropriate to the service and stated in the IEP in a manner clear to all who are involved in both the development and the implementation of the IEP. The August 21, 2015 IEP included a statement of transition services including “instruction, practice self-advocacy and self-determination skills in the general education classroom, student and teacher.” Some members of the IEP team understood this statement to mean the student would receive special education services related to self-advocacy, and others did not. The student did not receive special education services related to self-advocacy following the August IEP team meeting. The district failed to provide the required specificity to implement special education services related to self-advocacy. The IEP team met on October 27, 2015, and added special education services related to self-advocacy to the IEP. Because the IEP has been updated with the required specificity, no further student-specific corrective action is needed.
The district must inform all regular education teachers, special education teachers, related service providers, and other service providers of the student of their specific responsibilities related to implementing each student’s IEP. The student’s IEP included special education services for 20 minutes, five times per week, including direct re-teaching of math concepts and homework clarification/assistance. The district acknowledges re-teaching and homework assistance was not provided consistently between September 1, and October 27, 2015, because some district staff did not know they had responsibilities under the student’s IEP. With agreement of the parents, the district provided compensatory services to the student from November 30, 2015, through January 11, 2016. No further student-specific corrective action is needed.
Each student’s IEP must include a statement of annual goals including a description of how the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured. The student’s IEP included a goal of increased mastery of concepts in a subject area which would be measured through a “beginning year baseline assessment” and “quarterly assessment.” The progress report dated November 13 does not contain quarterly data on how the student’s skills have changed since the beginning of the school year, and the district was not able to demonstrate that it properly conducted procedures for measuring the student’s progress toward meeting annual IEP goals. Within 15 days of the date of this decision, the district must provide an updated progress report to the parent which includes results from a quarterly assessment that demonstrates whether the student is making progress toward his annual goal. The district must also submit all progress reports for the 2015-16 school year to the department prior to July 1, 2016.
Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must develop a proposed corrective action plan to ensure positive behavioral interventions, supports, and strategies are considered when the student’s behavior impedes the student’s learning or that of others, IEPs are written with the required specificity, staff are informed of their specific responsibilities in implementing each student’s IEP, and the student’s progress toward meeting annual IEP goals are measured as specified in the student’s IEP.
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 1/28/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support