On January 4, 2016, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District. On January 14, 2016, the department received notification that the parties agreed to participate in mediation relating to the issues in this complaint and requested that the 60-day timeline to issue a decision be extended. On April 23, 2016, the parent notified the department that mediation had not resolved the issues and the parent wanted to proceed with the complaint. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2015-16 school year:
- properly responded to the parent’s request for adult support for personal care needs of a student with a disability;
- properly addressed incidents of alleged bullying involving a student with a disability; and
- properly reviewed and/or revised the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability to address lack of academic progress.
Each public agency must take steps to ensure parents of a child with a disability are afforded the opportunity to participate in each IEP team meeting. In developing the child’s IEP, the IEP team must consider the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child. On December 7, 2015, the IEP team met for the purpose of developing the annual IEP for the student. The parent attended the meeting and the IEP team considered the concerns of the parent. Information shared by the parent is documented in the student’s IEP, including the strengths of the student and concerns about a personal care issue and whether the student has supports in place to be successful in the school setting. The student’s IEP includes multiple goals and short term objectives that address personal care needs. Two of the short term objectives included are identifying and communicating needs and manipulating fasteners on clothing. To enable the student to meet the goals and short term objectives, the program summary provides specially designed instruction in speech and language, social skills and self-advocacy in special education and regular education settings. The student also receives occupational therapy weekly. The IEP describes a variety of supplementary aids and services to support the student in the school setting, including support to understand directions and follow routines, support for social interactions, support for participating in large group settings, and check-in/check-out assistance with organization. The IEP documents that the student is able to use the school locker room and restroom independently. A special education teacher or assistant monitors the student throughout the day and provides verbal prompts when needed, including when the student enters and exits the restroom. District staff have not observed any difficulties with the student using the restroom independently. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for adult support for personal care needs of the student.
Each school board must adopt a policy prohibiting bullying by students. School districts have an obligation to ensure that a student with a disability who is the target of bullying behavior continues to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in accordance with his or her IEP. The school should, as part of its appropriate response to the bullying, convene the IEP team to determine whether, as a result of the effects of the bullying, the student’s needs have changed such that the IEP is no longer designed to provide meaningful educational benefit. On December 10, 2015, and January 25, 2016, the school principal received emails from the parent alleging multiple incidents of bullying directed towards her child while riding the school bus. As per district policy, the principal completed a Report of Bullying/Harassment Incident for each incident and investigated by interviewing the students and bus driver. In neither case was the behavior identified as bullying or harassment. However, the principal directed the students not to sit near each other on the bus to avoid future conflict. On multiple occasions, the principal observed the students on the bus and talked with the bus driver to verify the students did not continue to sit together on the bus. Because no bullying or harassment was identified by the district, the IEP team was not reconvened to address the behavior. The district has taken steps to ensure similar incidents do not recur; no further incidents of bullying or harassment have been alleged since January 2016. The district properly addressed incidents of alleged bullying involving the student.
The IEP team must meet to review the student’s IEP periodically, but not less than once per year, to determine whether the annual goals for the student are being achieved and to revise the IEP as appropriate to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general education curriculum. On December 7, 2015, and again on May 4, 2016, the IEP team met for the purpose of annual IEP review and development. At each meeting, the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance were reviewed. Progress towards the goals and short term objectives is documented in each IEP. New annual goals and short term objectives were developed each year to address lack of academic progress, and special education services and supports were identified. The district properly reviewed and revised the IEP.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 6/15/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support