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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-021

On March 5, 2018 (form dated February 24, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the XXXXX (District). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district properly included a regular education teacher in a meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team of a student with a disability on February 13, 2018.

School districts must ensure the IEP team for each student with a disability includes at least one regular education teacher of the student. 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.

An IEP team meeting was held for the student who is subject of this complaint on February 13, 2018. The invitation to the IEP team meeting included the student’s general education math teacher. No other regular education teachers were included on the invitation. During the meeting, the math teacher contributed information to the team discussion. Approximately 20 minutes prior to the end of the meeting, the school principal verbally dismissed the math teacher from the meeting. District staff did not attempt to gain the parent’s written agreement to excuse the math teacher, who was a required participant in the IEP team. The district improperly excused the regular education teacher from participation in the IEP meeting. The district must review its procedures to ensure required members of the IEP team are only excused from participation in all or part of the IEP meeting when the district has obtained the parent’s written consent.

The March 5, 2018, complaint raised additional issues, identified by the department as whether the district, during the 2017-2018 school year, properly considered the results of an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and properly developed an IEP reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress appropriate in light of the student’s unique circumstances. On February 9, 2018, the parent requested a due process hearing regarding the same issues. Federal regulation requires that when a complaint and a due process hearing request relate to the same issues, the department must set aside the investigation of the complaint issues until the completion of the due process hearing and any appeals. As such, this decision will not address these issues. In addition, in the March 5, 2018 complaint, the parent alleged the district did not properly exercise its responsibility to identify, locate, and fully evaluate his child. The parent did not provide specific information regarding events occurring since March 5, 2017, related to this allegation. Complaints must allege a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date the complaint is received by the department. As such, the department is not able to investigate this issue through our special education state complaint process.

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:pmw 5/4/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support