On July 29, 2022 (form dated July 27, 2022), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (complainants) against the #### School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2021-22 school year:
- Properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding specially designed instruction in reading and writing,
- Provided special education services utilizing appropriately licensed staff, and
- Properly provided the student's parents with periodic reports on the progress the student was making toward meeting their annual IEP goals.
Whether the district properly implemented the IEP of a student with a disability regarding specially designed instruction in reading and writing and provided the special education services utilizing appropriately licensed staff.
School districts must provide each student with a disability with 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.
Each school board must ensure every teacher, aide, or other professional staff holds a valid certificate, license, or permit issued by the department for the position for which the individual is employed. Special education services must be provided by properly licensed special education teachers. 34 CFR § 300.156; Wis. Stats § 118.19; Wis. Admin. Code § PI 34.
The IEP for the student who is the subject of this complaint required the district to provide the student with 30 minutes of specially designed reading instruction each day for the entire 2021-22 school year. The student was to receive this instruction either individually or in small groups in the special education classroom. At an IEP team meeting on December 14, 2021, the student's IEP team added an additional 15 minutes of specially designed instruction per day in writing in the regular education classroom. Interviews with school staff confirm that the specially designed instruction was provided as was written in the student's IEP. Although these services were provided, the staff member who provided them was not appropriately licensed.
The district staff person who served as the primary special education teacher for the student held a 1-year emergency, cross-categorical special education teaching license that expired on June 30, 2021, and was not renewed. During the 2021-22 school year, this staff person held a special education program aide license. While a special education aide can support and reinforce the provision of specially designed instruction of a properly licensed teacher, a special education program aide license does not allow an aide to provide specially designed instruction. The district did not provide special education services utilizing properly licensed staff.
Within 20 days of the date of this decision, the student's IEP team must reconvene to determine whether and to what extent compensatory services are necessary. Within 45 days of the date of this decision, the district must conduct a review of all students who received specially designed instruction from this staff person during the 2021-22 school year. The district must determine whether compensatory services are required as a result of the district not providing special education services with properly licensed staff.
Whether the district properly provided the student's parents periodic reports on the progress the student was making toward meeting their 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 toward meeting their annual goals will be provided. The periodic progress reports must provide sufficient information so the parent can determine the degree to which the student has made progress toward meeting each goal. The reports must address progress toward each stated measurable goal and provide data or other information consistent with the measurement for each corresponding goal. CFR §300.320(a)(3) and Wis. Stat. §115.787(2)(h).
The student had three annual IEP goals for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. A fourth goal was added at the IEP team meeting on April 12, 2022. Progress reports were provided three times during the school year, per the requirements outlined in the student's IEP. Each progress report provided information that was not consistent with the method of measurement identified in the annual goals and associated objectives. On the progress report dated November 22, 2021, the information regarding the student's progress toward their spelling goal was not consistent with the method of measurement identified in the student's IEP. On the progress report dated March 8, 2022, the information regarding the student's progress toward their spelling and writing goals was not consistent with the methods of measurement identified in the student's IEP. Finally, on the progress report dated June 6, 2022, the information regarding the student's progress toward their spelling patterns goal was not consistent with the method of measurement identified in the student's IEP. The district did not properly provide the student's parents periodic reports on the progress the student was making toward meeting their annual IEP goals.
Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department for approval a corrective action plan to ensure that progress reports properly provide information that is consistent with the methods of measurement identified in the annual goals and associated objectives of students' IEPs.
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.