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IDEA Complaint Decision 15-069

On December 10, 2015 (form dated December 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 2015-16 school year, properly made changes to the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability; and properly implemented the IEP regarding the provision of a physical education class, speech and language therapy, supports for homework tasks and testing accommodations.

IEPs must describe services so the level of the district’s commitment of resources is clear to parents and other IEP team members. The description of the amount, frequency, location and duration of each service must be appropriate to the specific 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. All services must be provided as described in the IEP. Changes to an IEP must be made either through an IEP team meeting or if it is after the annual meeting and agreed upon by both the parent and the LEA, through a written document amending or modifying the IEP. A copy of the the revised IEP must be provided to the parents prior to implementation. 

The student has medical conditions affecting the student’s participation in physical education. An IEP developed on May 4, 2015 was in effect at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. The student’s IEP stated the student could go to a study hall or to the office sickroom in lieu of the physical education class if needed based on the student’s medical condition for that day.  At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, a teacher changed the student’s schedule by replacing the physical education class with a study hall.  The IEP team met to review and revise the IEP on September 30, 2015, but no determination was made regarding the student’s participation in physical education. However, the revised IEP indicated the student would have a study hall instead of physical education. On October 6, 2015, the parent had not yet received the final version of the revised IEP. The parent emailed district staff regarding the student’s participation in the physical education class. A district staff member responded by stating that the physical education class was removed from the student’s schedule and replaced with a one-on-one study hall. The district did not properly make changes to the student’s IEP, did not properly implement the student’s IEP regarding the provision of physical education, and did not properly provide a copy of the September IEP to the parent prior to implementation. 

The IEP developed on September 30, 2015, requires thirty minutes of speech and language (SL) services once each week.  On October 20, the student missed ten minutes of SL services because the student was finishing a test when the session was scheduled to begin. District staff planned to make up the ten minutes at the next week’s session. The following week the student was absent.  On December 8, district staff had to reschedule the student’s thirty minute session due to a scheduling conflict.  Thirty minutes of therapy services were made up by adding ten minutes to her scheduled sessions on December 10 and 22, and January 5. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding SL services.

The student’s IEP included several supports and modifications for homework tasks, including providing page numbers in texts where answers to literal comprehension questions on worksheets could be found.  Page numbers were not consistently provided in one general education class.  The rest of the supports and modifications for homework tasks were provided as described in the IEP. 

The September 30, 2015, IEP stated the student was to be provided lists of foreign language words and their English meanings in order to address issues with memory. The student’s foreign language teacher asked the student to engage in short, one-to-one conversations using appropriate foreign language words when no other students were present. The student used the lists of words provided as described in her IEP, and the teacher penalized the student for using this support. The IEP also indicated the student was to be provided an alternate test site where tests or quizzes could be read to her in order to minimize distraction. The district acknowledges the student was taken to a location to take tests where other students were present. District staff occasionally became distracted by the behavior of other students while reading tests. The IEP did not require the student to be the only student in the alternate testing location; however given the frequent interruptions the alternative location provided, did not minimize distractions. The district did not properly implement the student’s IEP regarding these accommodations. 

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must convene an IEP team meeting to address the student’s participation in physical education, and to determine whether compensatory services are required for failure to implement the IEP. The district must send a copy of the revised IEP to the department within 10 days after the IEP team meeting. In addition, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure IEPs are properly implemented, any revision to an IEP is properly made, and parents are provided a copy of revised IEPs prior to implementation.

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 2/8/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support