On January 31, 2020, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the XXXXX (district). On March 25, the department verified the district was closed pursuant to orders by public health departments and extended the 60-day time limit for the resolution of this complaint due to the existence of exceptional circumstances as provided in 34 CFR § 300.152(b)(1)(i). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2019-20 school year, properly implemented the individualized education plan (IEP) of a student with a disability and properly responded to requests for an IEP team meeting.
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 student’s IEP, and implementing the program as articulated. (34 CFR § 300.324). The amount of services to be provided must be stated in a manner appropriate to the service and must include the anticipated frequency the service will be provided, including the amount. In the case where it is impossible or inappropriate to describe supplementary aids and services in daily or weekly allotments of time, the IEP must clearly describe the circumstances under which the service will be provided. (34 CFR § 300.320[a]).
On February 9, 2019, the IEP team developed the student’s IEP, specifying the number of supplementary aids and services for the student to use in the regular and special education environments to allow the student to access grade-level materials. These included assignment modifications and accommodations, a list of possible accommodations for tests and quizzes that may be provided, access to teacher notes upon student request, alternate grading as determined by the case manager and the general education teacher, and adult support for all general education classes. On February 4, 2020, the IEP team developed a new IEP for the student. It included many of the same supplementary aids and services but clarified that adult support, assignment modifications, and accommodations for tests and quizzes were limited to two content areas. It changed the access to teacher notes from upon student request to having the teacher check the student’s notes for accuracy one time per week.
While some of the supplementary aids and services were not described in the student’s IEP with clear statements of frequency and amount, members of the IEP team and most staff responsible for implementing the student’s IEP had a shared understanding of how to implement the supplementary aids and services and provided them consistently. However, in one class, district staff did not consistently provide some of the supplementary aids and services. Implementation varied based on the teacher’s opinion of the student’s needs, miscommunication, and day-to-day inconsistency. The district failed to properly implement the IEP of a student with a disability.
A parent of a student with a disability may request an IEP team meeting at any time, and school districts should grant any such reasonable request to review and, if necessary, revise the student’s IEP. (34 CFR § 300.503). On January 15, 2020, the parent emailed the principal, the science teacher, and the special education teacher suggesting one of the supplementary aids and services be implemented in a particular way. The parent stated, “If we need to meet in person to discuss what this looks like, please let me know, and I’ll clear my calendar.” For unknown reasons, it appears that the district staff did not respond to this email. On January 22, 2020, the parent emailed the principal, the teacher, and the special education teacher again, this time clearly stating her request for a meeting. The request was not specifically for an IEP team meeting. District staff responded and attempted to schedule a meeting but had difficulty finding a date that worked for all of the required parties. In the end, the group decided it would meet as an IEP team, and the meeting took place on February 4, 2020. The district properly responded to requests for an IEP team meeting.
The district must reconvene the IEP team as soon as possible to revise the student’s IEP in the area of supplementary aids to ensure all are described with clear statements of amount and frequency. Additionally, the IEP team must determine the compensatory services that will be offered as a result of the inconsistent implementation of the IEP in one class during the 2019-20 school year within 15 days from the date of this decision. The IEP team should meet virtually or via telephone. Within five days of the IEP team meeting, the district must provide a copy of the revised IEP with documentation of the compensatory services offered.
Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must develop and submit to the department a corrective action plan to ensure supplementary aids and services in IEPs are described with clear statements of amount and frequency, to ensure staff responsible for implementing IEPs understand their responsibilities, and to ensure IEPs are implemented as written.
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. 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.
//digitally signed by BVH 4/1/20
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support