On October 3, 2022 (form dated October 1, 2022), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (complainant) against the #### School District (district). This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which pertain to the period of time since October 3, 2021, are included below.
Whether the district properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding grading modifications and provision of supplementary aids and services.
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 as 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). Districts must ensure that each service provider is informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing each student's IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports the district must provide the student in accordance with the IEP. 34 CFR § 300.324(d).
The complainant believed the district was inconsistently applying grading modifications and was not consistently providing several of the supplementary aids and services required by the student's IEP throughout the 2021-22 school year, and this adversely affected the student's academic achievement and grades. The IEPs in effect for the student during the 2021-22 school year did not include grading modifications. However, the IEPs provided for several modifications to assignments that included extended time by up to 150%, reducing the number of problems, and reducing the number of paragraphs in essays. The IEPs also provided services related to testing accommodations, such as the elimination of choices, extra time, and reduced writing.
The district provided the department documentation from each of the student's teachers describing how they provided the student supplementary aids and services during the 2021-22 school year. The information provided by the district demonstrates that while all teachers were aware of the student's IEP, they were not informed of their specific responsibilities, and the supplementary aids and services were not consistently provided. For example, the IEP indicated the student should sit near the point of instruction but was in the front row in some classes, the middle row in others, and near the back in other classes. In addition, homework was not always modified as specified in the student's IEP. Additionally, teachers implemented testing accommodations differently across the student's classes. Some teachers indicated that the student did not want to utilize these services, while others shared that the student received extra time but was unable to confirm whether the student was provided the length of time required by the IEP. The district did not properly implement the student's IEP regarding the provision of supplementary aids and services.
Within 20 days of the date of this decision, the district must reconvene the student's IEP team to review and make sure each service is stated in a clear manner that is understandable to all involved in implementing the student's IEP. The district must also ensure the student's teachers are informed of and understand their specific responsibilities, including the appropriate frequency and amount of each service, to ensure the student's IEP is implemented. Given the unique, student-specific circumstances of this violation, no district-level corrective action is required.
Whether the district properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding extended school year (ESY).
ESY services are required special education and related services provided beyond the limits of the school term, in accordance with the student's IEP, and at no cost to the parents. Local educational agencies (LEAs) cannot limit ESY services to particular categories of disability or unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of the services. LEAs are required to provide ESY services to a student with a disability when the student requires these services to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). 34 CFR § 300.106. The ESY services must be tailored to the unique needs of the student and may not be based solely on the availability of services during the summer. 34 C.F.R. § 300.106. The specific ESY services provided, including the amount and duration of the services, must be based on the student's individual needs.
The student's IEP in effect during the summer of 2022 included ESY services of specially designed instruction in reading related to academic classes for 30 minutes per week and specially designed instruction in reading fluency and decoding for 30 minutes per week. The student took two classes during the summer of 2022. During ESY sessions, district staff provided the student assistance with reading related to the summer school classes. The complainant raised concerns that the district did not continue to work on the student's reading goals as specified.
The district was not able to provide information to demonstrate that staff worked with the student on the specific skills identified in the student's IEP to be targeted during ESY. However, prior to this decision, the district met with the complainant and determined compensatory services to be provided to the student. The student has received all compensatory services. No additional student-specific corrective action is required. Given the unique, student-specific circumstances of this violation, no district-level corrective action is required.
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.