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IDEA Complaint Decision 19-008

On February 13, 2019 (letter February 10, 2019), 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 that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2018-19 school year:
  • Properly provided the parent of a student with a disability a copy of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) prior to its implementation;
  • Properly developed and implemented the student’s IEP regarding positive behavior interventions and supports;
  • Properly provided the student’s parents periodic reports on student’s progress toward meeting annual IEP goals; and
  • Properly responded to a parent’s request for student records.
Whether the district properly provided the parent of a student with a disability a copy of the student’s IEP prior to its implementation.

Any time a school district proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of a free, appropriate public education to a student with a disability, the district must provide the parents prior written notice including, if applicable, a copy of the student’s IEP, a reasonable time before any proposed changes take effect. (34 CFR §§ 300.322 [f] and 300.503).

On May 15, 2018, the student’s IEP team met to review and revise the IEP. The student’s parent attended the meeting. The placement notice indicated that the revised IEP would be implemented immediately on May 15, 2018, and that the parent was provided a copy of the notice and IEP that same day. When an IEP team’s intention is to implement changes in an IEP immediately, district standard practice is to provide parents a final copy of the IEP at the end of the meeting. We did not find any evidence that this practice was not followed in this instance.

The next IEP team meeting was held on October 18, 2018. The team determined the revised IEP would be implemented on October 31, 2018. The parent attended this meeting. The implementation date was documented properly on the Program Summary page of this IEP; however the district acknowledges the date on the placement notice for this meeting was not accurate. While the date was not accurate, district staff mailed a copy of the IEP to the parent prior to its implementation.

On February 15, 2019, the IEP team met to review and revise the IEP. The student’s parent attended the meeting. On February 26, 2019, copies of the IEP were sent home in the student’s backpack and sent via U.S. Postal Service. The implementation date as stated on the IEP and placement notice was March 4, 2019. District staff mailed a copy of the IEP prior to its implementation. The parents were properly provided a copy of the student’s IEP prior to implementation.

Whether the district properly developed and implemented the student’s IEP regarding positive behavior interventions and supports.

School districts must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) 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. If the student’s behavior impedes his learning or that of others, the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions, supports, and other strategies to address that behavior (34 CFR § 300.324[a][2]).

The student’s IEPs in effect during the period of time covered by this complaint, the IEP team noted the student’s behavior affected his ability to interact with peers in social situations. The student had difficulty sharing or taking turns, did not have a concept of personal space, and would occasionally touch others without an understanding that the action was bothering them. The IEP team considered the individual needs of the student, provided specially designed instruction to address the behavior, and identified behavioral interventions and supports.

On February 7, 2019, the student was suspended for two days for misbehavior on the school bus. The parent believed the district could not suspend the student according to the IEP. The student’s parent believed the IEP specified if the student misbehaved, the student was to report to the special education teacher first, then to the principal since the student did not fully understand the ramifications of the behavior. However, the IEP did not include this provision and did not prohibit the student from being suspended. The IEP indicated the student would have an additional staff member available on the bus for supervision when the student went on field trips. The student’s IEP did not require an additional staff member on the bus at all times.

In addition, staff provided the following positive behavioral interventions and supports and supplementary aids that were included in the student’s IEP: noise-cancelling headphones; seating in close proximity to an adult for all school gatherings and assemblies; a visual schedule for all general education classroom transitions; and sensory breaks during the day when the student was dysregulated or overstimulated. The student’s teachers indicated they used a system of star sheets to help the student succeed during the day, sensory items, a chewy necklace, and a designated cubby within the classroom where the student could put on headphones and relax. The district properly developed and implemented the student’s IEP regarding positive behavioral interventions and supports.

Whether the district properly provided the student’s parents periodic reports on student’s progress toward meeting annual IEP goals.

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 (34 CFR § 300.320[a][3][ii]).

The parent indicated the district was not providing reports on the student’s progress each trimester as required by the student’s IEP. The trimester reports were to be provided at the same time trimester report cards were provided to all students. The district provided a progress report, dated May 30, 2018, to the parent within two weeks of the end of the 2017-18 school year along with the student’s report card. The district also provided a progress report to the parent on December 11, 2018, to cover the reporting period that ended on November 28, 2018, (the first trimester). The district properly provided the student’s parent with periodic progress reports on the student’s IEP goals.

Whether the district properly responded to a parent’s request for student records.

School districts must permit parents and/or adult students to inspect and review any education records that are collected, maintained, or used by the district. A school district must comply with a request for access to education records without unnecessary delay and before any IEP team meeting. In all cases, the school district must comply with a parent’s and student’s request within 45 days. (34 CFR §§§ 99.10, 300.613, and 300.611[b]; Wis. Stats. § 118.125[2][a]).

The parent requested a copy of all the student’s records after an IEP meeting in February 2019. When the parent examined the documents in the student’s folder provided by the district, the parent realized some records were not included. The student’s parent asked the staff to collect the rest of the papers to pick up at a later date. The district agrees the parent verbally requested the records at 9:23 a.m. on February 7, and also agrees an evaluation record was missing from the files. The parent left the building at 11:01 a.m. with the records she had been given. The missing record, an evaluation from the 2016-17 school year, was delivered to the school office from the central office an hour later. The parent returned a week later to obtain the document. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for student records.

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

//signed BVH:pmw 4/12/2019
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
BVH:mm
For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781