On June 20, 2022 (form dated June 6, 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 provided the parents of a student with a disability periodic reports on the progress the student made toward meeting the annual individualized education plan (IEP) goals,
- Properly implemented the student's IEP regarding specially designed instruction, and
- Properly developed the student's IEP regarding annual goals and specially designed instruction.
Whether the district properly provided the parents of a student with a disability periodic reports on the progress the student made toward meeting the annual (IEP) goals.
Each student's IEP must include a description of how the student's progress toward meeting their annual goals will be measured. It must also include a timeline for when periodic reports on the student's progress towards meeting their annual goals will be provided CFR §300.320(a)(3) and Wis. Stat. §115.787(2)(h).
The student who is the subject of this complaint had eight annual IEP goals for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. Progress reports were provided eight times during the school year, per the requirements outlined in the student's IEP. Each progress report provided information that matched the method of measurement identified in the annual goals and associated objectives. The first four progress reports indicated that the student was making adequate progress toward meeting each of their eight annual goals. The fifth progress report, dated February 21, 2022, indicated that the student had met three goals, was making adequate progress on one goal, and was making insufficient progress on four goals. The student's progress toward meeting annual goals was reviewed at an IEP team meeting held on March 3, 2022, and the student ultimately did not meet five of their eight goals, although they made progress toward all of the goals. The student's parents were surprised to learn the student fell short of meeting so many goals, given that progress reports indicated the student was mostly making adequate progress. The IEP team discussed reasons for the student's lack of progress during the IEP team meeting and addressed the lack of progress through the review and revision of the student's IEP. Interviews conducted by the department's investigator with school staff indicate that staff believed that the student would be able to meet each of the goals until they collected data for the progress report dated February 21, 2022. The staff reported in the February 21, 2022, progress report that the student was making insufficient progress toward meeting several goals. The district properly provided the parents of a student with a disability periodic reports on the student's progress toward meeting their annual goals.
Whether the district properly implemented the student's IEP regarding specially designed instruction.
School districts must provide each student with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment. School districts meet their obligation to provide FAPE to each student with a disability, in part, by developing and implementing each student's IEP as it is written. Staff responsible for implementing the student's IEP must be informed of their specific responsibilities. 34 CFR §300.323 and Wis. Stat. §115.787.
The student's IEP indicates that the student was to receive 85 minutes of specially designed instruction per day in both literacy and math, beginning on September 1, 2021. This description is based on the length of the entire instructional block. At the March 3, 2022, IEP team meeting, the team changed the amount of specially designed instruction from 85 to 30 minutes. This change was made due to an updated district practice and was intended to reflect the fact that although 85 minutes was the length of the literacy and math special education class periods, it did not provide an accurate description of the time that the student received direct specially designed instruction. The student had actually been receiving 30 minutes of specially designed instruction in both literacy and math per day since September 1, 2021. While it is permissible to describe the amount of specially designed instruction as the length of the class period rather than the specific amount of minutes of direct instruction, the student's parents and all involved in the development and implementation of the IEP must have a shared understanding of the meaning of the description of services in the IEP. In this case, the parents understood the student's existing IEP to mean that the student was receiving 85 minutes of specially designed instruction in both literacy and math each day. Given this, the district and the parent did not have a shared understanding of the services that would be provided.
Within 20 days of the date of this decision, the district must reconvene the IEP team and ensure all involved in the development and implementation of the IEP have a shared understanding of the description of the amount and frequency of specially designed instruction the district will provide the student. The district must provide documentation that this was discussed to the department within 10 days from the date of the meeting.
Whether the district properly developed the student's IEP regarding annual goals and specially designed instruction.
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.
At the IEP team meeting on March 3, 2022, the student's parents requested that the student receive an increase in the amount of specially designed instruction in literacy. Additionally, they requested that the level of attainment in the new reading comprehension and decoding annual goals include a statement of the reading level of the materials the student would be using as part of the baseline and level of attainment.
The IEP team considered both requests and determined not to increase the student's minutes of literacy instruction or to add a reading level to the student's new annual goals. The parents and the district attempted to engage in the mediation process to address these disagreements but ultimately did not complete the mediation process.
A re-evaluation meeting was held on May 10, 2022, and the team reconvened to develop the student's IEP on June 14, 2022, and June 28, 2022. The IEP team increased the student's specially designed instruction in literacy from 30 minutes per day to 50. They also agreed to add an additional 30 minutes of specially designed instruction in literacy twice a week. As a result, the student's total amount of specially designed instruction in literacy the student would receive per week increased from 150 to 310. The district properly developed the student's IEP regarding specially designed instruction.
At the June meetings, the IEP team again discussed the parents' requests to include reading levels in the level of attainment statements for the student's annual decoding and reading comprehension goals but did not implement the parent's request. The goals in the revised IEP are measurable and contain appropriate baseline information and level of attainment. The district properly developed the student's IEP regarding annual goals.
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.