On January 18, 2022 (form dated January 6, 2022), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (complainant) against the #### School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues identified are whether the district, during the 2021-22 school year, properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding the provision of an aide and whether the district improperly made changes to the student's IEP outside of an IEP team meeting.
Did the district properly implement the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding the provision of an aide?
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 IEP, and implementing the program articulated in the IEP. The IEP must include a statement of the special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child, including the projected date for the beginning of the services and the anticipated duration of the services. All services must be clearly stated in the IEP in a manner that can be understood by all involved in the development and implementation of the IEP. 34 CFR §§ 300.320(a)(4) and (a)(7).
The IEP team met on November 12, 2021, to develop an annual IEP for the student, who is in eighth grade and is identified as having an intellectual disability. The IEP team noted that the student's disability affects the student's involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. The team wrote that the student "requires 1:1 or small group instruction and review through the ID program…" Based upon the student's experiences in previous school years and on this statement, the student's parent believed the district would provide a one-to-one aide to the student in all classes.
The student's IEP in effect during the period of this complaint does not specify a one-to-one aide. In the student's special education classroom, two paraprofessionals assist the special education teacher. The classroom size is small, and sometimes staff will work directly with the student, while at other times, small group instruction is provided. The IEP statement quoted above describes this one-to-one and small group instruction in the special education classroom. Under the section of the IEP describing supplementary aids and services, the IEP team described the support the student would receive in the general education setting as follows: "[the student] can dictate to a teacher or paraprofessional what [the student] wants to say'' for assessments. The IEP team wrote that support staff would be "checking up on [the student]." The IEP also specifies that during school lunch periods, school programs, and other special activities, the student would be given support if the student appeared anxious or needed help understanding the activity. In addition, the IEP team noted "a staff member may write [the student's] dictated answers" where more than five sentences of writing were required, and staff were "allowed to read all assignments, quizzes and tests to the student." The IEP does not include any references to a one-to-one aide in the supplementary aides or services. The district is providing the student aide services as currently described in the IEP. The district properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding the provision of an aide.
Did the district improperly make changes to the student's IEP outside of an IEP team meeting?
Changes to the IEP may be made after the annual IEP team meeting by the IEP team at an IEP team meeting, or upon agreement of the parent and the district, the district may develop a written document to amend or modify the child's current IEP without holding an IEP team meeting. 34 CFR § 300.324(a)(4).
As described in the first issue, the parent believed that the student's IEP included a 1:1 aide for the student across school settings. When the student's parent learned the student was not being provided a one-to-one aide, the parent believed that the district had made a change to the student's IEP without the parent's knowledge and without holding an IEP team meeting. However, as described above, the student's IEP did not require the provision of a one-to-one aide. The district did not make changes to the student's IEP outside of an IEP team meeting.
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. For more information, visit the department's website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.