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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-058

On July 19, 2018, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2017-18 school year:
  • Properly identified the purpose(s) of a meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team for a student with a disability;
  • Properly considered and documented the concerns of the student’s parent in the student’s IEP;
  • Properly developed the student’s IEP regarding measurable annual goals;
  • Properly revised the student’s IEP to address any lack of expected progress;
  • Properly developed and implemented the statement of specially designed instruction in the student’s IEP; and
  • Properly provided the student’s parent periodic reports on the student’s progress toward attaining the annual IEP goals according to the schedule determined by the IEP team.

On February 13, 2018, the IEP team met for an annual IEP review to review and revise the IEP and determine continuing placement. During the meeting, the parent expressed concerns about the student’s health, strategies to address when the student is at a “roadblock” and the need for one-on-one time with the special education teacher. The parent requested the student receive direct instruction from the special education teacher with no other students in the room in order to maximize the student’s advancement towards IEP goals. The IEP team discussed and documented information about the student’s health and dietary needs in the IEP under present level of functional performance. In developing the statement of present level of academic achievement, the IEP team discussed and documented results of district-wide assessments, and in determining how the student’s disability affects the student’s academic and functional performance, discussed the results of the most recent evaluation and assessments. The IEP team discussed the parent’s concern regarding the need for one-on-one time, especially when the student is at a “roadblock.” The district explained that the student receives 15 minutes of one-on-one specially designed instruction in reading daily while several other students are working independently in the special education classroom. The student then works independently for another 15 minutes on reading strategies while in close proximity to the special education teacher. The parent stated that the student would be even more successful given additional one-on-one time alone with the special education teacher. In response, the IEP team agreed to add a five-minute consult with the special education teacher four times per week at the beginning of each day to help prepare the student for the day. Participation in a “breakfast club” was discussed as another option to provide additional one-on-one time with the special education teacher, but was not documented in the student’s IEP. Prior to developing new goals, the IEP team reviewed the student’s progress on the student’s current IEP goals. The IEP team reviewed reading goals’ baselines and levels of attainment compared to benchmark data and weekly progress monitoring probes. The student did not meet one of the reading benchmark scores, but the IEP team documented in the IEP that the student had met the IEP goals. Following the review of IEP goal progress, the IEP team revised the reading goal to address the lack of sufficient progress towards the benchmark score by including a short-term objective to increase reading fluency. The student’s IEP also had a math goal that included a single benchmark score as the level of attainment. The procedures for measuring progress included the benchmark assessment and classroom data. The IEP team reviewed the goal’s baseline and level of attainment compared to benchmark and classroom data and determined although the student had not met the benchmark score, the student met the goal because classroom data showed the student demonstrated knowledge and made growth on math assessments. The IEP team revised the math goal, setting a new baseline and level of attainment and developed new short-term objectives. The IEP team also increased the amount of specially designed math instruction.

Properly identified the purpose(s) of a meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team for a student with a disability

If the purpose of the IEP team meeting is to develop an initial or annual IEP or review and revise an IEP, the IEP team must consider the results of the student’s initial or most recent evaluation, as well as any results from statewide and district-wide assessments. There is no requirement that consideration of this information be documented on a particular form or in a particular way. The purpose of the student’s IEP meeting on February 13, 2018, was to review and revise the IEP, and although the IEP team did not check “Yes” or “Not Applicable” on the cover page to signify they considered the results of the initial or most recent evaluation, statewide assessments or district-wide assessments, this information was properly considered and documented within the IEP.

Properly considered and documented the concerns of the student’s parent in the student’s IEP

In developing each student’s IEP, the IEP team must consider the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child. This may include concerns about academic achievement, social and emotional needs, sensory needs, and behavior. In this case, the IEP team considered the parent’s concerns, and some revisions were made as a result. The student’s IEP developed on February 13, 2018, also included documentation of the IEP team’s consideration of each of the parent’s concerns. The parent believed the revised IEP would provide additional time each morning for the student to meet with the special education teacher in a breakfast club. Since the breakfast club is available to all students, the district did not document this option in the IEP. If the student requires this additional one-on-one time with the special education teacher, the special education service should be documented in the IEP and include the frequency, amount, location, and duration of the service so that the level of the agency’s commitment of resources is clear to parents and other IEP team members. Within 15 days of this decision, the IEP team must reconvene to determine if this service is required by the student, and if so appropriately document the service in the student’s IEP.

Properly developed the student’s IEP regarding measurable annual goals and revised the student’s IEP to address any lack of expected progress

Before developing annual goals, the IEP team must review the student’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the student are being achieved and revise the IEP, as appropriate, to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general education curriculum. Each IEP goal includes a goal statement, baseline information, and level of attainment. The IEP goal level of attainment is the level of proficiency expected at the end of the IEP period. An IEP team must exercise caution when setting an appropriate level of attainment for a goal. A single benchmark score taken at a point in time may not accurately reflect a student’s overall ability. In this case, the IEP team chose to use benchmark scores to indicate the desired level of attainment: for the reading goals, two winter benchmarks scores; and for the math goal, a single winter benchmark score. The student did not meet the winter benchmark scores. Rather than determining the student had not met the goal based on these scores, the IEP team chose to consider other data in making the determination. During the annual review, the IEP team incorrectly determined the student met the goals when the student did not score at or above each of the specified levels of attainment for the particular goals. Nevertheless, the IEP revised the reading goal to address the lack of progress in reading fluency and revised the math goal and special education services to reflect the student’s current level of academic performance. Within 15 days, the IEP team must review and, if appropriate, revise the student’s current levels of attainment and procedures for measuring progress to ensure they are appropriate for determining IEP goal attainment.

Properly developed and implemented the statement of specially designed instruction in the student’s IEP

The IEP must include a statement of special education service (specially designed instruction) and be implemented as specified in the IEP. The amount of special education must be appropriate to the specific service and stated in a manner that can be understood by all involved in developing and implementing the IEP. The student’s IEP developed on February 13, 2018, included 15 minutes of language arts support four times per week in the regular education classroom; 30 minutes of specially designed reading instruction four times per week in the special education classroom; 15 minutes of specially designed math support four times per week in the regular education classroom; and a five minute consult between the student and the special education teacher four times per week in the special education classroom. The IEP states, “if teachers notice [the student] has increased anxiety or difficulty with content in any subject, more time will be spent…working on the problems or skills." Interviews with district staff confirm the student received all specially designed instruction as specified in the student’s IEP. The student’s special education teacher went into the regular education classroom during the 90-minute literacy block and supported the student at different stations for 15 minutes, four times a week. The student attended the special education classroom during “What I Need – WIN” time when students work on interventions specific to their needs. The student received 30 minutes of specially designed reading instruction five times a week during WIN time, 15 minutes one-on-one with the teacher and 15 minutes working independently under the teacher’s supervision. The student checked in with the special education teacher each morning for five minutes to prepare for the day and assess how the student was doing. The student also had the choice to go to the special education classroom during snack time if the student was feeling anxious or needed assistance with academics. The student was reminded of this option each day, but did not access this option. Regular education teachers, however, contacted the special education teacher and requested assistance when they saw the student struggling with a concept. The special education teacher provided additional assistance when this occurred. The special education teacher also provided support to the student in the regular education math classroom 15 minutes a day four times a week, sometimes working on an alternate activity to further support math goals.

Although the IEP called for the student to receive 30 minutes of specially designed reading instruction in the special education classroom four times per week, the student received the service five times per week. Within 15 days of this decision, the IEP team must determine if there is a need for increasing the frequency and amount of specially designed reading instruction and revise the IEP accordingly.

Properly provided the student’s parent periodic reports on the student’s progress toward attaining the annual IEP goals according to the schedule determined by the IEP team

Parents of students with disabilities must be informed periodically about their student’s progress toward meeting the measurable annual IEP goals. The IEP must identify when reports about the student’s progress will be provided to the parent. The student’s IEP developed on

February 13, 2018, indicates reports about the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals would be provided to the parents “as frequently as is required by regular education teachers to report on peers.” Report cards are issued for all students at the trimesters and parent-teacher conferences are offered three times per year. The student’s benchmark scores were shared with the parent at the fall 2017 and winter 2018 parent teacher conferences, as well as during the February 13, 2018, IEP team meeting. IEP goal progress reports were mailed to the parent in the same envelope as the trimester report cards. The district properly provided the student’s parent periodic reports on the student’s progress toward attaining the annual IEP goals according to the schedule determined by the IEP team.

Within 30 days of this decision, 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 9/17/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
CST:abc
For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781