On April 8, 2016 (form dated April 4, 2016), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the River Valley School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district properly provided the parent of a student with a disability meaningful opportunity to participate in an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting held on March 4, 2016.
A school district must take steps to ensure one or both parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate by other means. The district must notify the parents of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to attend and must schedule the meeting at a mutually agreeable time and place. If the student’s parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation. An IEP team meeting may be held without a parent in attendance if the district is unable to convince the parents they should attend. The school district has the responsibility and discretion to assign staff as IEP team participants.
On February 11, 2016, a district staff person emailed the parent to schedule an IEP team meeting during the week of February 29, to March 4. On February 15, 2016, the parent replied via email, and indicated March 4 was an acceptable meeting date. On February 19, 2016 the staff person emailed the parent to confirm the meeting would be scheduled for Friday, March 4, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. On February 22, 2016, the district mailed the parent the invitation to the March 4, 2016 IEP team meeting. The invitation to the meeting listed the individuals appointed as IEP team members. On February 23, 2016, the parent emailed the staff person objecting to the inclusion of the district special education director on the IEP team. The staff person emailed the parent on February 25, 2016, explaining the special education director was attending to ensure the meeting would be conducted properly. Later in the day on February 25, the parent emailed the staff person stating, “This is a denial of FAPE.” On February 29, 2016, the staff person sent an email reminder of the meeting to the parent. In addition, the staff person offered the parent the opportunity to participate in the meeting by phone or by any other means. The IEP meeting was held on March 4, 2016, without the parent present or participating by other means. The district has the discretion and responsibility to appoint staff members to an IEP team, and a parent does not have the ability to exclude members appointed by the district. The district properly provided the parent with a meaningful opportunity to participate in the IEP team meeting held on March 4, 2016.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 6/6/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support