On May 16, 2018 (form dated May 16, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXX (parent) against the Racine Unified School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2017-18 school year, properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding services for visual impairment and assistive technology.
A school district must provide each child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. A school district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child with a disability, in part, by providing the special education services specified in the student’s IEP. A school district must ensure staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP have access to IEPs and are informed of their specific responsibilities. Each student’s IEP must include a statement of special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports for school staff to be provided based on each student’s unique needs. IEPs must describe services so the level of the district’s commitment of resources is clear to parents and other IEP team members. All services must be provided as described in the IEP. If the IEP team determines a student needs assistive technology devices to enable the student to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate, the district must provide this device at no cost to the parent.
The student’s parent alleges the district failed to provide services identified in the IEP for visual impairment from May 7, 2018, through June 12, 2018. The student’s IEP in effect for the 2017-18 school year provides for specially designed instruction two times per week for a total of 120 minutes in select areas of the expanded core curriculum for the blind and visually impaired, including braille, organization and time management skills, assistive technology, and self-determination skills. The teacher providing this instruction went on leave from May 7, 2018, until the end of the school year. The district posted the position vacancy at the end of March 2018, but no applicants applied for the position and the position remained unfilled.
The parent also alleges that the student did not have access to a braille note taker at home. The student’s IEP includes supplementary aids and services of assistive technology, which includes a braille note taker, in regular and special education settings, during all class periods. The student had access to this device during the school day, but was not permitted to take it home. The parent alleges that the absence of the device at home compromised the student’s ability to complete homework assignments. On February 27, 2018, at an IEP team meeting, the parent requested that the student be permitted to take the braille note taker home. Staff responded that it was against district policy to send assistive technology devices home with a student but that her request would be considered. On June 20, 2018, the parent was notified that staff members did not anticipate it being a problem for the braille note taker to go home with the student. Whether the student required the use of the braille note taker at home as part of providing FAPE should have been determined at the IEP team meeting, and there should not have been that long of a delay in responding to the parent’s request. The district did not properly implement the IEP of a student with a disability regarding services for visual impairment, and did not properly respond to the parent’s request for the use of an assistive technology device at home.
Within 30 days of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine compensatory services for failing to provide the specially designed instruction from May 7, 2018, through June 12, 2018. Additionally, the IEP team must also determine what, if any, assistive technology the student requires at home. The district must provide the department within 10 days of the date of the IEP team meeting, a copy of the revised IEP documenting these determinations, including the notice of placement with options considered and rejected.
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. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process.
//signed CST 7/13/2018