On December 4, 2017 (form dated November 29, 2017), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, since December 4, 2016,
- Properly developed the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability;
- Properly implemented the IEP with regard to toileting and seating options;
- Properly provided the specialized transportation services for a student with a disability.
- Properly changed the placement of a student with a disability.
Properly developed the IEP of a student with a disability
Related services are supportive services required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education and include school health services and school nurse services. Supplementary aids and services are aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education, other educational settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable students with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled students to the maximum extent appropriate. The IEP must include the anticipated frequency and amount, location and duration of the services. The amount of time to be committed to each of the various services must be appropriate to the specific service, and clearly stated in the IEP in a manner that can be understood by all involved in the development and implementation of the IEP.
The student has a health plan dated October 26, 2017, regarding the student’s needs related to toileting, repositioning, transfers, and bus transfers. The health plan is not part of the student’s IEP; the school nurse is responsible for the health plan and participates in the student’s IEP team meetings, sharing relevant information. The health plan indicates the district will provide certified nursing assistant staff to attend to the student’s health care needs. The health plan includes instructions regarding repositioning, medication administration, feedings, and other health needs of the student. References to some of the services in the health plan are included in the IEP under supplementary aids and services and related services. The IEP includes adult support for attendant care services for toileting, mobility, tube feeding and seizure monitoring; and 2-person adult assistance with every transfer in and out of the wheelchair, stander, commode, and high/low bed. The IEP is not required to contain the same level of detail as is provided in the health care plan; however the IEP failed to include sufficient information about the amount and frequency of the supplementary aids and services that will be provided to the student so that the level of the agency’s commitment of resources is clear to parents and other IEP Team members.
Within 30 days of this decision, the district must reconvene the student’s IEP team to determine the frequency and amount of supplementary aids and services related to adult support for attendant care and 2-person adult assistance with transfers to be provided to the student and revise the IEP to clarify the district’s commitment. Within 10 days of the IEP team meeting, the district must submit a copy of the student’s revised IEP to the department.
Properly implemented the IEP with regard to toileting and seating options
School districts must ensure each student with a disability receives a free appropriate public education by providing special education services in conformity with the student’s IEP. The student’s IEP in effect on December 4, 2016, included services and supports related to toileting and seating options. The district hired two certified nursing assistants to provide the services for the student. The IEP team met on February 2, 2017, and on October 26, 2017, and continued to include services and supports related to toileting and seating options. The district maintains a weekly care log of these services which includes when services were provided and the initials of the providers. The student also uses a bean bag chair and mat during therapies. However, because the frequency and amount of services to be provided is not clearly specified in the student’s IEP, it is not possible to determine if the IEP was properly implemented. Following the IEP review and revision process as required above, the district must ensure the services are provided as specified in the student’s IEP.
Properly provided the specialized transportation services for a student with a disability
Related services include transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education. The IEP in effect on December 4, 2016, includes as a related service special transportation between home and school two times daily and special transportation for community programming twice a month. The specialized transportation services continue in the February 2 and October 26, 2017, IEPs. Since December 4, 2016, the student has received specialized transportation between home and school two times daily. The district provides a certified nursing assistant to accompany the student to and from school by bus each day. The bus includes a wheelchair lift and wheelchair accommodations. The bus driver assists the student onto the bus and secures the wheelchair. The nurse monitors the student’s health during transport. The district also provides special transportation for the student to participate in community programming. Documentation of the student’s participation is included in the district’s daily communication log to the parents, on the special education teacher’s monthly event calendar and on the student’s weekly care log. The district properly provided the related service of special transportation for the student.
Properly changed the placement of a student with a disability
In determining the educational placement of a student with a disability, each local educational agency must ensure the placement decision is made by the IEP team during an IEP team meeting at least annually, is based on the student's IEP, and is as close as possible to the student's home. Unless the IEP requires some other arrangement, the student must be educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled and the student must not be removed from education in age-appropriate regular classrooms solely because of needed modifications in the general education curriculum. To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities must be educated with students who are nondisabled. Special classes or other removal of a student with a disability from the regular educational environment may occur only when the nature or severity of the student's disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. In selecting the least restrictive environment, consideration is given to any potential harmful effect on the student or on the quality of services that he or she needs. The school district must provide the student’s parents prior written notice whenever the local educational agency proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the educational placement of the student.
The IEP team met on February 2, 2017, for the annual IEP review and to determine continuing placement. The IEP team determined the IEP would be implemented at XXXXX Intermediate School from March 2, 2017, to February 1, 2018. XXXXX Intermediate School serves students in grades four through six. September through February 2018 included the student’s seventh grade year. The IEP documents XXXXX Intermediate School as the school the student would attend if nondisabled; however seventh grade students without disabilities attend XXXX Middle School. With the exception of extended school year, no other placement options were considered, although the district informed the parent they would investigate placing the student at the middle school. The parents were provided notice of placement prior to IEP implementation at XXXXX Intermediate School.
In the spring of 2017, the district evaluated available space at the middle school to consider placement for the fall. Prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year, the district invited the parent to tour the middle school and discuss the district’s investigation of whether the student could be placed at the middle school. The parent met with the school principal and director of special education. This was not an IEP team meeting. However, the district discussed placement with the parent and communicated the decision that the student would continue to attend XXXXX Intermediate School. Due in part to issues with building accessibility and space, the district determined the student’s education could not be achieved satisfactorily at the middle school even with provision of supplementary services. Placement at the intermediate school significantly restricts the student’s access to, and participation with, same-age peers with and without disabilities in school. Additionally, the district, not the IEP team, decided where the student would attend school.
An IEP team meeting was scheduled for October 26, 2017, and the IEP team met to consider placement of the student at XXXXX Middle School. The IEP team reviewed the district’s findings from the spring investigation of possible placement at the middle school. The IEP team agreed with the district’s determination that the student’s IEP should continue to be implemented at XXXXX Intermediate School, citing lack of space and safety issues at the middle school. The IEP team did not sufficiently consider options to allow the student access and participation to the student’s same age peers with and without disabilities in school.
Within 20 days of this decision, the district must reconvene the student’s IEP team to revisit the student’s placement. In making the placement determination, the district must pay appropriate consideration to the restrictiveness of placement and the district’s obligation to maximize, as appropriate, the student’s participation with same-age peers, particularly given the close proximity of the two schools. Within 10 days of the IEP team meeting, the district must submit a copy of the student’s revised IEP to the department. The district has acknowledged the placement discussion should have occurred during an IEP team meeting by the IEP team and subsequently conducted staff training on the requirement. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure IEP teams properly document the determination of whether students will attend the school they would attend if not disabled, and consider to the maximum extent appropriate, student participation with same age peers.
This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process.
//signed CST:bvh 2/2/2018