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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-089

On December 11, 2017 (form dated December 6, 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, beginning on December 11, 2016, properly addressed incidents of alleged bullying involving a student with a disability, and properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability.

Properly addressed incidents of alleged bullying involving a student with a disability

Each school board must adopt a policy prohibiting bullying by students. School districts have an obligation to ensure that a student with a disability who is the target of bullying behavior continues to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in accordance with his or her IEP. The district should, as part of its appropriate response to the bullying, convene the IEP team to determine whether, as a result of the effects of the bullying, the student’s needs have changed such that the IEP is no longer designed to provide meaningful educational benefit.

In March 2017, the parents contacted the principal with concerns about bullying and harassment of the student. The incident took place during one of the student’s academic classes when another student vocalized that they did not want to sit by the student. The school principal conducted an investigation of the incident, including an interview of the student. The student did not feel threatened or harmed by the incident. The district determined the incident did not rise to the level of bullying per the district’s policy. The student’s special education teacher checked in with the student weekly to ensure the student was having a positive experience at school. The student did not report any other incidents during these check-in times. Under these circumstances, the district was not required to hold an IEP team meeting. The district properly responded to alleged incidents of bullying of a student with a disability.

Properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability

School districts must provide a free appropriate public education to each student with a disability by developing a program that meets the student’s unique needs, documenting that program in the IEP, and implementing the program articulated in the IEP. At the beginning of each school year, each district must have an IEP in effect for each child with a disability, and services must be provided to the student in accordance with the student’s IEP. The district must inform all regular education teachers, special education teachers, related service providers, and other service providers of the student of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the student’s IEP. The services must be stated in the IEP in a manner clear to all who are involved in both the development and the implementation of the IEP.

The student’s IEP in effect for the 2017-18 school year, was developed on May 8, 2017. The IEP team considered information from the previous school year, current district-level assessments, teacher observation data, and student and parent concerns. The statement of present level of academic achievement and functional performance detailed the student’s needs related to current performance in the areas of science, social studies, English, and vision, and included how the student’s disability affects the student’s involvement in the general education curriculum. The IEP team developed annual goals related to study strategies and vision therapy. Each annual goal was measurable, addressed the student’s needs, and included how and when the parent would be informed of progress. The IEP included specialized instruction and academic support in vision services. The IEP team developed supplementary aids and services to support the student in the special education and general education environment that included, but were not limited to, enlarged font for school work, copy of notes, audiobooks, extra time on tests and quizzes, tests read if text reader is not in place, and alternative testing for English vocabulary. Documentation provided by the district and interviews with staff demonstrate the student received all the supplementary aids and services as written in the student’s IEP. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP.

This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process. 

//signed CST 2/9/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158