On April 25, 2022, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (complainant) against the #### (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, beginning April 25, 2021:
- Properly developed an individualized education program (IEP) reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress appropriate considering the student’s unique circumstances; and
- Properly afforded the student’s parents meaningful opportunities to participate in the development of the student’s IEP.
- Whether the district properly developed an IEP reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress appropriate in light of the student’s unique circumstances.
School districts must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each student with a disability by developing an IEP that meets the student’s unique needs and by implementing the special education and related services in accordance with the student’s IEP. 34 CFR §§ 300.323(c)(2) & 300.324. Each student’s 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, align special education services to enable the student to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals and make progress in the general
curriculum, and be educated with nondisabled students. 34 CFR §§ 300.320 and 300.323. Whether an interruption in educational services constitutes a denial of FAPE is an individual determination that must be made on a case-by-case basis. Letter to Clarke, 107 LRP 13115 (OSEP 2007).
The IEP team met on August 24, 2021, to determine placement and develop an IEP for the 2021-22 school year. The IEP team determined that the student would begin the 2021-22 school year in a full-time, at home placement. The IEP team determined that the student’s behaviors were so severe that before the student could safely receive in-home academic instruction, intensive services to address the student’s behavior were required. A representative from the county was present at the IEP team meeting, and the IEP team determined that the county would contract with an outside agency to provide in-home services that would be focused on behavioral supports to ensure the student could safely receive in-home academic instruction. The student’s IEP specified that once the parents and county agreed that the student was ready to receive educational services, including specially designed instruction, a district special education teacher would come to the home and provide these services. The student’s IEP should have included a plan to meet more frequently to review the student’s progress and readiness for these educational services.
In-home services from the contracted provider were delayed and did not start until December 2021. The district requested progress reports and were told several times that the student was not ready for academic instruction. However, the district did not reconvene an IEP team meeting until May 24, 2022. At the May 24, 2022, meeting, the IEP team determined that academic services would begin in conjunction with behavioral services from the contracted provider. Since this IEP team meeting, the student has begun receiving academic services in the student’s home.
The student did not receive academic instruction for most of the 2021-22 school year. While the IEP should have also included a plan to meet frequently to review progress, once it became clear that the services to address the student’s behavior were delayed and that the student would not receive any academic services for a prolonged period of time, an IEP team meeting was required to address the situation. While the department would like to acknowledge that since May 24, 2022, the student has been receiving academic services, the IEP team meeting to arrange this occurred far too late in the school year after the student lost a tremendous amount of instructional time. The district did not properly develop the student’s IEP.
Within 20 days of the date of this decision the district must reconvene the IEP team and determine the amount of compensatory services required as a result of the above noncompliance, subject to the department’s review. The district is directed to submit a copy of the IEP to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting.
Whether the district properly afforded the student’s parents meaningful opportunities to participate in the development of the student’s IEP.
In developing each student’s IEP, the IEP team must consider the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child. School districts must take steps to ensure that one or both parents of a child with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. An IEP team meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if the public agency is unable to convince the parents that they should attend. 34 CFR § 300.322. The student’s parents were invited to and attended both IEP team meetings. On August 24, 2021, they participated by phone and on May 24, 2022, one parent participated in person. Interviews with school staff confirm that the parents’ input was considered and there were no requests made by the parents that were denied. The district properly afforded the parents meaningful opportunities to participate in the development of the student’s IEP.
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. 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.