On July 13, 2016, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Eau Claire Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2015-16 school year:
- properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding specially designed instruction in math and science;
- properly conducted periodic reviews of the IEP of a student with a disability to determine whether annual goals were being achieved and revised the IEP, as appropriate, to address any lack of expected progress; and
- improperly shortened the school day of a student with a disability to accommodate transportation schedules.
Public school districts must fully implement each student’s IEP by providing all services as described in the IEP. During the 2015-16 school year, the student’s IEP specified 50 minutes daily of specially designed instruction in math and 50 minutes daily of specially designed instruction in science in the special education classroom. The district acknowledges the student did not receive specially designed instruction in math during the first semester of the school year, and did not receive any specially designed instruction in science during the second semester of the school year. The district failed to implement the IEP as written during the 2015-16 school year.
An IEP must include a statement of measurable annual goals designed to enable the student to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum and to meet the student’s other disability-related educational needs. The IEP must include a description of how the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured and when periodic reports on the progress will be provided to the student’s parents. The IEP must also include a statement of the special education services to enable the student to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals and be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum. The IEP team must review the student’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the student are being achieved and revise the IEP, as appropriate, to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals. Changes to the IEP not affecting the student’s placement may be made after the annual IEP team meeting without reconvening the IEP team if the district and a student’s parent agree. In these situations the district may develop a written document to amend or modify the student’s current IEP.
The IEP specifies quarterly summaries of student’s progress will be provided to notify the parents of the student’s progress towards the annual IEP goals. The student’s parent contends these progress reports were not received, and the district acknowledges that they cannot verify the reports were sent to the parents. At the annual IEP team meeting on March 16, 2016, the IEP team reviewed data related to the short-term objectives associated with each goal and determined the student had made progress towards meeting the goals; however, the student did not reach the expected levels of attainment and the IEP team determined the student should continue to work toward meeting the same goals and short-term objectives. Following the annual meeting, the parents expressed concern that the student had not made progress in reading achievement over the past two years. The IEP team met in May to address the parent’s concerns. The IEP team reviewed new data and determined the student had additional disability-related needs. As a result, the IEP team revised the student’s goal and short-term objectives related to reading. The district properly conducted a review of the IEP.
A school district may not reduce a student’s instructional time by starting the student’s school day later or releasing the student earlier than nondisabled peers in order to accommodate a transportation schedule. The IEP team may shorten a school day only when the team determines it is required to address the student’s unique disability-related needs. During the 2015-16 school year, the student participated in a journalism class the last period of the school day. The student reported to the parent that instructional time was lost each day while the instructor waited for students to be released early to their buses. The student who is the subject of this complaint was not released early. The journalism class is a project-based class in which the teacher works with small groups of students while other students work independently. The class is offered at the end of the day to allow for flexible scheduling, including early release time for students. The district clarified that it is not their practice to reduce student’s instructional time by dismissing students with disabilities earlier than nondisabled peers in order to accommodate a transportation schedule. Some students with disabilities, however, are released early based on each student’s unique, disability-related needs, as documented within each student’s IEP. The district did not improperly shorten the school day of a student with a disability to accommodate transportation schedules.
Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must convene an IEP team meeting and determine compensatory services for the student in math and science, and revise the student’s IEP as appropriate. The district must submit documentation of this determination to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting. The district must also provide the parent with the quarterly summaries of the student’s progress for the 2015-16 school year. Also, within 30 days, the district must submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure IEPs are implemented as written, and periodic reports on IEP goal progress are provided to parents of middle school and high school students as specified in each student’s IEP.
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 9/9/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support