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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-023

On March 28, 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. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the summer of 2015, and the 2015-16 school year:

  • properly changed the educational placement of a student with a disability; and
  • properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability with respect to speech and language therapy services, occupational therapy consultation, specially designed instruction in interpersonal skills and problem solving strategies, and extended school year services (ESY).

The student’s IEP team determined placement for the student on March 11, 2015. The parent was provided a notice of placement on March 17, 2015. The placement notice stated, “The IEP Developed on 3/11/15 will be implemented at [name of school] (school building or other specific setting) in the School District/City of Madison with a projected date of implementation on 3/18/15.” The student attended classes at the school for the remainder of the school year. Subsequently, school staff discussed with the parent and the student the possibility of the student participating in the school’s off-site alternative program. The alternative program is open to all students who meet certain criteria. Students complete a program application and are admitted as space allows. The student completed an application and was admitted to the program during the summer of 2015. On August 28, 2015, the student, parent, and school staff met to orient the student to the program. At that meeting, a school staff member reviewed the student’s IEP and determined it could be implemented in the program. The student began attending school at the program the following day. No IEP team meeting was held and no notice of placement was provided pertaining to the student’s participation in the program. The student’s placement was subsequently changed by the IEP team on November 30, 2015, January 26, 2016, and March 4, 2016 with notice provided to the parent in each instance.

In instances where a student makes a voluntary transfer from one physical location to another within the district, the district must, at a minimum, review the student’s IEP to determine whether it can be implemented in the new location. If the IEP can be fully implemented at the new location, the district must issue a new notice of placement reflecting the physical location where the IEP will be implemented. As the student’s current placement notice accurately reflects the student’s current placement, no further action is required.

The student’s IEP developed on March 11, 2015, specified one 30 minute session per week, three weeks per month, of speech and language instruction; 20 minutes per day of instruction in problem-solving strategies; 15 minutes per month consultation by the occupational therapist with the student’s case manager; and 30 minutes per week of observation and skill training by the occupational therapist when concerns were identified by the student’s case manager. The observation and skill training by the occupational therapist was removed from the IEP on November 30, 2015. Interviews with district staff and documentation provided by the district confirm the district properly implemented the student’s IEP during the 2015-16 school year.

On May 28, 2015, the student’s IEP team determined the student would participate in ESY services from June 12, 2015, through August 21, 2015. The student’s IEP specified instruction in problem solving strategies and communication with employer to be provided three hours bi-weekly, and 30 minutes per week of consultation with the student and employer. These ESY services were intended to complement an employment opportunity arranged for and supported by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. In June, the district was informed that district staff members were not welcome at the student’s job site. After early July, the student was no longer employed. The district continued to provide the instruction and consultation to the student via telephone and in-person away from the worksite, and provided guidance to the student in searching for a new job after the student’s employment ended, but were unable to consult with the employer as specified.

Services must be implemented as written in a student’s IEP. When circumstances beyond a district’s control prevent the district from implementing services, the district must review and revise the student’s IEP either by holding an IEP team meeting or, where appropriate, without a meeting by agreement of the parent. In this case, the district was unable to fully implement ESY services due to decisions by the student’s employer, but did not modify the IEP to revise the ESY services. Within 30 calendar days, the district shall submit to the department a corrective action plan to ensure IEPs are revised when the district is prevented from implementing the service by an outside factor.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected within one year of the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint. 

//signed CST 5/20/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support


For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158