On September 30, 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 issue is whether the district, during the 2018-19 school year, properly provided special education to students with a disability using appropriately licensed staff.
Each school board must ensure every teacher, paraprofessional, or other professional staff holds a valid certificate, license, or permit issued by the department for the position for which the individual is employed before the individual engages in duties of such a position. The district must ensure professional teaching responsibilities are carried out by teachers who are licensed by the department. A special education paraprofessional’s role is limited to working under the direct supervision of a licensed special education teacher to support the lesson plans of the teacher, provide technical assistance to the teacher, help with classroom control or management, and perform other duties as assigned.
The complainant alleges special education services provided to students with disabilities were provided by inappropriately licensed staff in one district classroom during part of the 2018-19 school year. On September 30, 2018, the classroom was staffed by a full time licensed special education teacher and a licensed special education paraprofessional. On October 2, 2018, due to an injury, the assigned teacher went on medical leave for the remainder of the school year. Following the teacher’s injury, the district reassigned two DPI licensed special education teachers to the classroom to cover the duties of the absent teacher while searching for a replacement. Although the special education teachers assigned to the classroom did not physically spend the entire day in the classroom, they developed and provided all specially designed instruction in all academic areas in accordance with the students’ individualized education programs (IEPs). In addition to designing and providing instruction, the special education teachers reviewed the students’ work and developed all daily lesson plans. The special education teachers had daily contact with the students and provided supervision to the paraprofessional to ensure the teachers’ lesson plans were properly supported. The special education teachers consulted with the paraprofessional several times throughout each school day to explain lessons, review instruction and classroom management, discuss and review student progress, and address any concerns. The special education teachers developed the students’ IEPs and provided progress reports to parents for each student in accordance with their IEPs. The district properly provided special education to students with disabilities using appropriately licensed staff.
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.
//signed by BVH 11/26/19
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support