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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-043

On June 6, 2016 (form dated June 1, 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 the opportunity to participate in an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting held on May 23, 2016.

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 parents indicate they wish to attend the IEP team meeting but are unable to attend an IEP team meeting at a district-proposed time, the district should continue to work with the parents toward finding a mutually agreeable meeting time. If the 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.

On April 4, 2016, the student’s parent informed district staff the parent would not be able to attend an IEP team meeting scheduled for April 14. Beginning on April 8, the district made several unsuccessful attempts to contact the student’s parent to reschedule the IEP team meeting. The parent did not respond to the e-mails or phone contacts. District staff scheduled an IEP team meeting for May 23, 2016, and on May 3, sent the parent an invitation to the meeting. On May 6, the district received a letter from the parent stating the parent could not attend the May 23 IEP team meeting due to a previously scheduled appointment and provided three alternative dates. Due to the number of people attending the IEP team meeting, the district was unable to reschedule the meeting on any of the dates provided by the parent. The district should have contacted the parent for additional dates, but instead chose to proceed with the May 23, 2016, meeting. The district offered the parent an opportunity to provide information prior to the May 23 meeting, and/or participate in the meeting via phone, but due to the previously scheduled appointment the parent was not able to participate in the meeting by other means. While the department recognizes the multiple efforts made by the district to reschedule the April 14 IEP team meeting, after the parents informed the district of their inability to attend the May 23 meeting the district should have continued to work toward finding a different, mutually agreeable time to meet. The district did not properly provide the parent with an opportunity to participate in the IEP team meeting. The district is currently conducting district-wide corrective action on the same issue in Case 16-036. Therefore no additional corrective action is required.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/5/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support