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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-036

On April 18, 2016 (form dated April 13, 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 October 8, 2015.

A school district must take steps to ensure parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. 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, including individual or conference telephone calls.  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 district held an IEP meeting for the student on October 8, 2015, without the parent in attendance. As documented in the IEP, the district made three attempts to schedule the meeting with the parent through emails and a telephone call, but did not receive a response.  Therefore, because district staff did not receive a response, the meeting was scheduled for October 8th.  On October 6, the parent sent an email to the case manager noting he had received the invitation to the October 8 meeting. He also noted, “It is not possible for me or my wife to attend.” The parent stated that he and his wife had already scheduled appointments that they could not change. Given this information, district staff should have rescheduled the meeting in order to afford the parents an opportunity to participate. The district has conducted a subsequent IEP team meeting that included the parents, and therefore, no student specific corrective action is required.  

The district must review policies, procedures and practices to ensure parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate, and submit documentation of this review and any revisions made to the department by September 15, 2016. In addition, the district must provide training for staff on these requirements, and submit documentation of the training to the department by September 15, 2016.  

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 6/15/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support