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IDEA Complaint Decision 19-036

On May 28, 2019, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parents) against the XXXXX (district). The district and the parents agreed to mediate the issues raised in the complaint and extend the timeline for resolving the complaint. The district and parents were unable to come to an agreement through mediation and the department resumed its investigation. This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2018-19 school year:

  • Properly responded to a parent’s request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting;
  • Properly developed and implemented an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a student with a disability to make progress appropriate in light of the student’s circumstances;
  • Properly provided parents periodic reports on the student’s progress toward annual goals; and
  • Properly determined the student’s placement in the least restrictive environment.

Properly responded to a parent’s request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting.


The parents of a child with a disability have the right to request an IEP team meeting at any time, and districts must grant any reasonable parent request. The district must respond to the parents request within a reasonable amount of time, and schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. (34 CFR 300.322)

On March 19, 2019, the parent requested that the student’s IEP team meet. The district contacted the parent to arrange a mutually agreed on time and place for the meeting. The district provided the parent a written invitation to the meeting on April 17, 2019, and conducted the meeting on April 26, 2019. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.

Properly developed and implemented an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a student with a disability to make progress appropriate in light of the student’s circumstances.


Properly Developed the Student’s IEP


The parents requested an IEP team meeting in March 2019, to review the results of an evaluation of the student conducted by the district’s reading specialist. When the district provided notice of the IEP team meeting, it indicated purposes of the meeting as an annual IEP team meeting, determining continuing placement, and consideration of postsecondary goals and transition services. The parents assert they were only given 48 hours notice of the purposes of the IEP team meeting and that the student’s annual IEP was not due for two months. It is within a school district’s discretion to add additional topics of discussion to an IEP team meeting, and to decide to conduct an annual IEP team meeting earlier than a twelve month time frame. The district must provide notice as to the purpose of any IEP team meeting before the meeting takes place, which it did in this instance.

The IEP team reviewed the results of the reading evaluation on April 26, and incorporated certain recommendations from the evaluation into the student’s IEP. The parents believe that the evaluation was not fully discussed, and that additional concerns regarding the evaluation were not addressed. In situations where a parent believes there is additional information or topics to be discussed by the student’s IEP team, the parent may request that the IEP team meet again to further discuss the matter. There is no evidence in this complaint that the parent made such a request, or that a request for a new IEP team meeting was denied by the district.

The IEP developed on April 26, contained five annual goals for the student. The goals contained in the student’s IEP are aligned with the Common Core Essential Elements, and were aligned with the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance as documented in the IEP. The goals are complex, but are objectively measurable as required by state and federal special education law.

The IEP team reviewed the student’s postsecondary transition plan at the IEP team meeting. The postsecondary goals in the student’s transition plan are objectively measurable as required by state and federal special education law.

The student’s IEP team documented behavioral concerns, such as not staying on task during class, in the IEP developed on September 25, 2018, and the IEP developed on April 26. In both instances the IEP team indicated the student’s behavior did affect her learning or that of others and specified positive behavior supports to address the need. The behavior supports in place are appropriate to the student’s needs. The district was not required to conduct a functional behavioral assessment.


Properly Implemented the Student’s IEP


A student’s IEP must specify the frequency and amount of special education, supplementary aids and services, and related services to be provided for the student. The student’s IEP must be implemented as it is written. The evidence reviewed by the department in this complaint demonstrates the student’s IEP was implemented as written during the 2018-19 school year. The parents are concerned that the district has implemented the student’s specially designed instruction using inappropriate curriculum and instructional methods. It is within a district’s discretion to select appropriate materials and methods in providing specially designed instruction.

Properly provide parents periodic reports on the student’s progress toward annual goals.


A student’s IEP must include a description of when periodic reports on the progress the student is making towards meeting the annual goals will be provided. (34 CFR § 300.320[a][3]). Progress reports must be provided as specified in the IEP, must report progress on all of the IEP goals, and must report progress in terms that matches the measurement specified in the goals’ baseline and level of attainment.

The student’s IEP, developed September 25, 2018, contained five goals. One of these goals specified progress reports would be provided “quarterly”, another “Quarterly (including 3 progress reports and 1 annual IEP)”, and the remaining three “3x a year and IEP”. The district provided the parents written progress reports on the five goals on November 2, 2018, January 18, 2019, and March 22, 2019. The November progress reports indicated there was not sufficient data to report. In instances related to three of the student’s goals in the remaining two reporting periods, progress was not stated using the measurement specified in the goal.

The student’s IEP, developed on April 26, 2019, contained five goals. One of these goals specified progress reports would be provided “quarterly”, another “Quarterly (including 3 progress reports and 1 annual IEP)”, and the remaining three “3x a year and IEP”. The district provided the parents a written progress report on the five goals on June 13, 2019. In instances related to three of the student’s goals, progress was not stated using the measurement specified in the goal.

While the district provided the progress reports to the parent as specified in the student’s IEP, the district did not appropriately document that progress using measurements appropriate to the student’s baseline and level of attainments as specified in the student’s annual goals. Within 30 days of the date of this decision the district shall submit to the department a corrective action plan outlining the steps it will take to insure progress reports use measurements matching the measurement specified in the annual goals. This district shall also submit the student’s next progress report for review by the department.


Properly determined the student’s placement in the least restrictive environment.


To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities must be educated with students who are non-disabled. Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal from the regular education environment should occur only if the nature or severity of the student’s disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (34 CFR § 300.114)

For the 2019-20 school year, the student’s schedule calls for the student to participate in three special education classes and specially designed physical education. The IEP developed on April 26, does not sufficiently explain why full-time participation with non-disabled peers is not appropriate. Likewise the placement notice issued subsequent to the IEP team meeting does not describe other options considered for providing the student’s specially designed instruction and the reasons rejected. Within 30 days, the district shall submit a corrective action plan outlining the steps it will take to insure IEP teams appropriately document the reasons why removal from the regular education environment is appropriate. The student’s IEP team is currently scheduled to meet on September 30, 2019. The district is directed to insure the student’s IEP team discusses and appropriately documents the reasons for any removal of the student from the regular education environment at the IEP team meeting.

This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolutions, including mediation and due process hearings. Visit http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution for more information.


Sincerely,

//signed by BVH 9/30/19
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
dec:pas

For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781