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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-001

On January 3, 2017 (form dated December 26, 2016), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Menasha Joint School District. This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2016-17 school year, properly provided the parent of a student with a disability a meaningful opportunity to participate in a meeting of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team.

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.

In investigating this complaint, department staff have attempted to contact the parent multiple times, both through telephone calls and written correspondence, and have been unsuccessful in reaching the parent. Based on information provided by the district, on October 18, a district staff person called the complainant to talk to her about scheduling the annual IEP team meeting. The complainant told the staff person she was having surgery in late October, and would like to hold the IEP team meeting via conference call while she recovered. The staff person called the complainant again on October 21, and left a message asking if a meeting date of November 2, was acceptable. The complainant did not return the call. The staff person mailed an IEP team meeting invitation to the parent on October 27, with the November 2 meeting date. The IEP invitation was also sent home with the complainant’s child in her backpack on October 31. The complainant did not respond to the IEP invitation to clarify if the November 2 meeting date was acceptable.

On November 2, at the beginning of the IEP team meeting, a district staff person called the complainant at home. There was no answer. The staff person left a message for the complainant to call a number at school to join the IEP team meeting in progress. District staff decided to go ahead with the IEP team meeting to ensure that an annual review was conducted within the one year timeline.

The complainant contacted a staff member on November 18, to inquire why the IEP team had conducted the meeting without her. The staff member offered to reconvene the IEP meeting at a date that was convenient for the complainant, and the parent stated she was undecided if she wanted it reconvened. Subsequently, the district has attempted to contact the parent about scheduling another IEP team meeting, and the parent has not responded to these attempts.

The district properly afforded the parent a meaningful opportunity to participate in the November 2016 IEP team meeting. In scheduling this meeting, the district attempted to contact the parent about the meeting on multiple occasions, and by using multiple methods. The district also afforded the parent the opportunity to participate through other means such as by a conference call. Because the district had provided the opportunity to participate, district staff could properly proceed with the November 2nd IEP team meeting, and no further action is required.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 2/23/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

Dec/mm