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IDEA Complaint Decision 19-010

On March 6, 2019 (letter March 2, 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 described below.

Whether the district properly developed and implemented the student with a disability’s individualized education program (IEP) and properly responded to a parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.

A district meets its obligation to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with a disability, in part, by providing special education and related services. Districts must provide FAPE to each student with a disability by developing a program based on the student’s unique needs that is reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress appropriate in light of the student’s circumstances, documenting that program in the IEP, and implementing the program as articulated in the IEP. 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.

School districts must hold IEP team meetings to review a child’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually. A parent may request an IEP team meeting at any time. The district should respond to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review the student’s IEP. If the district denies a parental request for an IEP team meeting, the district must notify the parents of their refusal in writing, provide a reason for the decision, and inform the parents of their procedural safeguards.

The IEP in effect for the student during the 2018-19 school year was developed on April 27, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to develop an annual IEP and determine continuing placement. The IEP team identified the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. Additionally, the IEP team identified how the student's disability affects the student's involvement and progress in the general curriculum, developed measurable annual goals designed to meet the student's disability-related needs, and aligned special education services to enable the student to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals. The IEP included, as supplementary aids and services, adult assistance for toileting for 45 minutes each day in the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) bathroom. The IEP team, including the student’s parent, determined that although the student would be eligible to attend the district’s 4K program in September, the student would attend the ECSE classroom for the entire 2018-19 school year.

In December, a district staff person contacted the parent about moving the student into the district’s 4K program. The parent immediately contacted the district’s special education director with concerns about moving the student from the ECSE classroom to the 4K class. The parent also voiced concerns about the student’s disability related needs, outlined in the IEP, specific to adult assistance for toileting. On December 17, the parent was informed that the student would remain in the ECSE classroom.

On January 25, a district staff person contacted the parent and stated the student’s current ECSE classroom was dissolving as of February 4, 2019. The district staff person provided the parent two options: the student could either attend the afternoon ECSE classroom with primarily younger children; or the student could attend the 4K classroom. The parent then requested a meeting with district staff. Due to weather, the parent was unable to meet with district staff before the closing of the ECSE classroom.

On February 4, the four and five year old ECSE classroom was discontinued. On February 5, the student attended the 4K class. The district acknowledges that there should have been an IEP meeting prior to changing the student’s placement from the ECSE classroom to the 4K classroom and thus did not properly develop and implement the student’s IEP. In addition, the district also acknowledges that the student’s IEP specific to toileting in the ECSE classroom was not implemented as written one time and immediately implemented a procedure for following the student’s specific toileting needs following this isolated incident. On March 1, 2019, the student’s IEP team met to review and revise the IEP and determine proper placement for the student. The IEP team determined the student’s placement would continue to be in the 4K class. No student specific corrective action is required since the student received all services contained in the student’s IEP from February 5 to March 1, although in the setting of the 4K classroom. Upon receipt and review of this complaint, the district immediately implemented corrective actions to ensure placement is properly determined at an IEP team meeting prior to changing a student’s placement. No further corrective action is required.

Improperly disclosed pupil record information.

A school district may disclose personally identifiable information from a pupil record under three circumstances: (1) when the district receives written consent from a parent, guardian or adult pupil; (2) upon receipt of a court order; or (3) by other authority granted by state law. In December, a staff member disclosed personally identifiable information regarding a child with a disability to a non-district employee. The staff member acknowledged a conversation did take place that disclosed personally identifiable information regarding the student to non-district employees without written parental consent, and none of the limited exceptions to obtaining parental consent applied. The district reminded the staff member involved of the obligation to maintain student confidentiality. Within 30 days of this decision, the district will submit to the department a corrective action plan to ensure staff understand and will be held accountable regarding their obligation to maintain student confidentiality.

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 BVH 5/1/2019
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support