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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-080

On December 21, 2016 (form dated December 19, 2016), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of New Berlin. This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2016-17 school year:

  • properly included required participants for a meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team of a student with a disability;
  • properly documented the location for provision of supplementary aids and services in the student’s IEP; and
  • properly responded to a request from parent to examine records prior to the IEP team meeting.

School districts must ensure the IEP team for each student with a disability includes the student’s parent, at least one regular education teacher of the student (if the student is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment), at least one special education teacher of the student, and a local educational agency (LEA) representative. A required IEP team participant may be excused from attending an IEP team meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves a modification to, or discussion of, the participant’s area of the curriculum or related services if, in writing, the parent and the district agree to the excusal, and the IEP team participant submits written input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting. Only required IEP team participants need to be excused in writing. The student’s IEP team met on November 21, 2016, to complete a reevaluation and develop the student’s IEP. The invitation to the IEP team meeting indicated the school principal would be serving as the LEA representative at the meeting. Other school staff filled the remaining required roles. An additional administrator was also invited to the meeting but was not designated to fulfill a required role on the team. On the day of the IEP team meeting, the additional administrator became ill and had to leave school before the IEP team meeting. The additional administrator was not designated to fulfill a required role and was not required to be excused from the meeting in writing. The IEP cover sheet lists the name of the additional administrator as a meeting participant, but indicates the administrator did not attend the meeting. The district properly included required participants in the IEP team meeting.

Supplementary aids and services are aids, services, and other supports provided in general education classes or other education-related settings to enable a student with a disability to be educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate. Each IEP must include the projected dates for implementation of all services and their anticipated amount, frequency, location, and duration. The description of services must be clear to the parent and all involved in developing and implementing the IEP. The description of the amount, frequency, location, and duration must be appropriate to the specific special education service. The student’s IEP includes the supplementary aids and services of differentiated tests, a small group setting for test taking, use of a calculator, use of a word processor for written requirements, proximity close to the point of instruction, provision of class notes, home-school communication, checking for understanding of directions, and pairing of auditory and visual cues. The location for all of the supplementary aids and services is listed as “general education.” With the exception of speech and language therapy, the IEP indicates that the student participates full-time with nondisabled peers in general education settings. The IEP properly documents the location for provision of supplementary aids and services.

A district is required to provide parents, on request, access to their child's education records maintained by the district without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an IEP and in no case more than 45 days after the request was made. On November 17 and 18, the parent requested the district provide evaluation data to be discussed at the November 21, 2016 IEP team meeting. No information was provided. Following the November 21 IEP team meeting, the student’s parent was given drafts of the evaluation and IEP and was invited to provide additional feedback before they were finalized. In an email to the special education teacher from the parent sent on December 7, 2016, the parent requested additional information regarding the student’s current levels of academic performance. Specifically, the parent requested age equivalency scores from one of the assessments used in the student’s evaluation to be converted to grade equivalencies. The parent also requested information on the student’s independent and instructional reading levels. On December 9, 2016, the district provided the parent final copies of the evaluation and IEP. The evaluation report acknowledged the parents request for grade equivalency scores, but indicated that particular assessment does not generate grade equivalencies. Neither the evaluation report nor the IEP specifies the student’s instructional or independent reading levels, and no explanation is provided as to why the information is not included. The district must provide information to the parent regarding the student’s reading levels or explain why this information is not available within 30 days of the date of this decision.

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 2/17/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support