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IDEA Complaint Decision 19-087

On November 25, 2019, (form dated November 23, 2019), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the XXXXX (district). The issue is whether the district, since November 25, 2018, properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding speech and language therapy.

School districts must provide each student with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. A school district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to each student with a disability, in part, by developing and implementing each student’s IEP. The IEP must include a statement of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. The IEP team must identify how the student's disability affects the student's involvement and progress in the general curriculum, develop measurable annual goals designed to meet the student's disability-related needs, and align special education services to enable the student to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals, make progress in the general curriculum and be educated with nondisabled students. The IEP must include clear descriptions of the amount, frequency, location, and duration of services so the school district’s commitment of resources is clear to the parent and all involved in developing and implementing the IEP. Staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP must be informed of their specific responsibilities. (34 CFR §§ 300.320, 300.323, 300.324; Wis. Stat. § 115.787).

The IEP in effect for the student who is the subject of this complaint was developed in May 2018 and revised at an IEP team meeting on October 22, 2018. At the October IEP team meeting, the frequency and amount of speech and language services sessions per week were increased. The IEP indicated the student was to receive speech and language therapy as a related service, including 30 minutes per week of individual therapy, 30 minutes 2 times per week of individual or small group therapy, and 45 minutes per week of small group co-therapy with the occupational therapist. The student’s IEP team reconvened for an annual IEP team meeting on May 2, 2019. The IEP team changed the student’s speech and language therapy services by eliminating one of the 30 minutes per week of small group therapy. The parent and school reported that on June 3, 2019, the parent withdrew the student from the school district.

At the IEP team meeting on May 2, 2019, the IEP team determined the student was not eligible for extended school year services. However, the district and parents subsequently agreed that the district would pay for speech and language therapy from a provider identified by the parents. Based on email documentation from the district, including an invoice, the district funded twenty-four (24) hours of speech and language therapy over the summer.

The student’s parent reported on multiple occasions the student did not receive required speech and language services, and the parent did not believe the services were made up. District staff kept daily notes on the student that were provided to the student’s parent. The daily notes showed times where the student’s speech and language services were not marked as provided due to the speech therapist’s unavailability. District staff indicated the daily notes were not intended to serve as an official record of IEP implementation; rather they were intended to inform the parent of the student’s activities each day.The speech and language provider kept monthly log records regarding services provided to the student and other district students both to document services and for billing purposes.

The parent submitted the student’s daily notes he received during the 2018-2019 school year. The daily notes documented the student’s tasks, start and end time for each task, location, and staff responsible for the task. The daily notes indicated from November 25, 2018, until June 3, 2019, there were 11 sessions of speech and language services that were not provided due to staff being unavailable. However, according to the speech and language therapist’s log, three of the 11 missed sessions were due to reasons other than the therapist’s unavailability. District staff indicated that despite the missed sessions, the student continued to make appropriate progress, and the team determined the student met all speech and language annual goals by the annual IEP review on May 2, 2019. The speech therapist also stated that additional time was added to the student’s speech and language sessions due to missed services, although the therapist did not directly document the added time, and it is unclear how much time was added. The district also agreed to pay for the additional speech and language therapy over the summer, in part, because of the missed sessions. Although the district did not properly implement the student’s IEP during the 2018-2019 school year, no corrective action is required given the facts of this case.

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 the department’s website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution for more information.

Sincerely,

//signed by BVH 1/23/20
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
 

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