On May 16, 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, during the 2021-22 school year, properly conducted individualized education program (IEP) team meetings for a student with a disability with all required team members, and properly developed the student's IEP regarding annual goals and addressing the student's behavioral needs.
Whether the district properly conducted IEP team meetings with all required team members.
A public agency must ensure that the IEP team for each child with a disability includes the parents of the child, at least one regular education teacher of the child, and at least one special education teacher or special education provider of the child. The team must also include a representative of the public agency who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction, is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum, and is knowledgeable about the availability of the resources of the public agency.34 CFR § 300.321. Under the Wisconsin Administrative Code, if a child is suspected of needing occupational therapy, physical therapy, or both, the IEP team for that child shall include the appropriate therapist. PI 11.24(2), Wis. Admin. Code. A member of the IEP team may be excused from the IEP meeting, in whole or in part, when the parent and the district agree to the excusal in writing. 34 CFR § 300.321(e).
During the 2021-22 school year, the IEP team for the student who is the subject of this complaint met twice: on October 14, 2021, and on May 4, 2022. In October, all required IEP team members were present and stayed for the duration of the meeting. In May, all team members were in attendance at the beginning of the meeting. The physical and occupational therapists participated virtually and were present to discuss their related service areas. This included the removal of the student's physical therapy goal as the student had made sufficient progress and met each of their benchmarks. The IEP team also determined that the frequency and amount of physical therapy and occupational therapy-related services would be decreased given the student's progress. Due to a scheduling conflict, the physical therapist and occupational therapist left the meeting early once the discussion of their related services had concluded. The parent and district did not agree, in writing, to the excusal of these team members. In this instance, the district did not properly conduct an IEP team meeting with all required team members. Given that the IEP team had completed their discussion of these team members' related service areas and goals prior to their departure, no student-specific corrective action will be required.
Whether the district properly developed the student's IEP regarding annual goals and addressing the student's behavioral needs.
In developing the student's IEP, the IEP team must consider the student's strengths, the concerns of the parents, the results of the initial or most recent evaluation of the student, and the academic, developmental, and functional needs of the student. The IEP must address the student's needs that result from the student's disability in order to enable the student to be involved in and make appropriate progress in the general education curriculum and meet the student's other educational needs that result from the student's disability. For children with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate academic achievement standards, a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives must be included for each annual goal. The IEP must include a statement of the special education services to be provided to the student, and if the student's IEP team determines the student's behavior impedes the student's learning or that of others, the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports to address the behavior 34 CFR §§ 300.320(a) and 300.324(a).
The student participates in the alternate assessments aligned to alternate academic achievement standards, so the IEP must include benchmarks or short-term objectives as part of their annual goals. At the IEP team meeting on October 14, 2021, the IEP team reviewed the student's progress toward meeting the annual goals from the prior IEP. The team determined the student met their physical therapy goal but did not meet their English language arts (ELA), math, or functional communication goals, although progress was made in each of the goals and benchmarks. The team reviewed all benchmarks associated with each annual goal and discussed factors affecting the student's progress. The IEP team attributed the student's amount of progress to the transition to middle school and working with new staff. The IEP team created revised goals and benchmarks in the same four areas and adjusted the frequency and amount of specially designed instruction in ELA and math. The district properly developed the student's IEP regarding annual goals at the October 14, 2021, IEP team meeting.
The student had not exhibited behaviors that impeded their learning or that of others prior to the 2021-22 school year. During the school year, the student began to demonstrate behaviors that impacted the student's learning, such as leaving the classroom and refusing to complete schoolwork. The frequency of behaviors increased over time. In March 2022, district staff decided to conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) for the purpose of developing a behavior intervention plan (BIP). The student's parent provided consent for the district to conduct the FBA. Staff collected data, and during the IEP team meeting on May 4, 2022, the IEP team reviewed it and developed a BIP to address the student's behaviors, including positive behavior interventions and supports. The district properly developed the student's IEP to address the student's behavioral needs.
At the IEP team meeting on May 4, 2022, the IEP team reviewed the student's annual goals from the IEP developed in October 2021. The team determined the student met their functional communication and physical therapy goals but did not meet their ELA or math goals, although progress was made in each of the goals and in all but one of the benchmarks. The IEP team reviewed all benchmarks associated with the student's annual goals. The IEP team attributed the student's amount of progress in these areas to the student's behavioral issues. The IEP team revised the student's goals and benchmarks for ELA, math, and functional communication. The IEP team decided to remove the physical therapy goal and added a new annual goal to address the student's behavior. The district properly developed the student's IEP regarding annual goals at the May 4, 2022, IEP team meeting.
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.