On August 23, 2018, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the Madison Metropolitan School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the summer of 2018, properly developed the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability.
School districts must take steps to ensure one or both parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate by other means. The district must notify the parents of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to attend and must schedule the meeting at a mutually agreeable time and place. If the student’s parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation. An IEP team meeting may be held without a parent in attendance if the district is unable to convince the parents they should attend.
On July 12, 2018, a district staff member contacted the parent via text message to schedule an IEP team meeting for July 26, 2018. The parent sent back a text message indicating the date and the time of the meeting were acceptable. District staff also sent a written invitation to the meeting on July 17, 2018. On July 25, 2018, the parent contacted a district staff member and indicated that due to unforeseen circumstances, the parent would not be able to attend the next day’s meeting at the time scheduled, but could come later that afternoon. The parent did not indicate that district staff should proceed with the meeting. District staff held the meeting without the parent present. Later that same afternoon, district staff members who were participants in the IEP team meeting met with the student’s parent to go over the discussions at the meeting and obtain the parent’s input. Under the circumstances of this case, the district should have rescheduled in order to provide the parent with an opportunity to participate in the IEP team meeting. The parent notified the district earlier enough to allow for rescheduling, and there were no timelines that dictated a meeting by that date. Because the parent was not provided an opportunity to participate in the IEP team meeting, the July 2018 IEP was not properly developed.
The student who is subject of this complaint is no longer enrolled in the district, so no student‑specific correction is required. Within 30 days of this decision, the district must submit to the department a corrective action plan to ensure parents are afforded a meaningful opportunity to participate in IEP team meetings, including rescheduling when necessary.
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.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support