On October 11, 2022 (form dated October 5, 2022), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from ####(complainant) against the #### School District. This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issues identified are whether the district, beginning October 11, 2021, properly developed and implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding post-secondary transition planning, supplementary aids and services, and specially designed instruction, and whether the district improperly made changes to the student’s IEP outside of an IEP team meeting.
To the extent appropriate, and with the consent of the parent or adult student, an LEA must invite a representative of any outside agency likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services, such as the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). 34 CFR §300.321(b)(3). The decision of whether it would be appropriate to invite a DVR representative to the IEP team meeting depends on factors such as whether the IEP team will discuss transition services, whether other agencies are likely to provide transition services, and whether the parent or adult student provides consent to invite them. Letter to Caplan (OSEP, 2008). Beginning during the school year when a student with a disability reaches age 14 and is updated each year after, the student’s IEP must include a statement of appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals for the student related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills. Wis. Stat. § 115.787(2)(g). The IEP must also include transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals. Wis. Stat. § 115.787(2)(g). Transition services refer to a coordinated set of activities designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving academic and functional achievement to facilitate a student’s movement from school to post-school life. The activities are based on the student’s needs and must consider the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests. The activities include instruction, related services, community experiences, development of post-school adult living objectives, acquisition of daily living skills if appropriate, and a functional vocational evaluation if appropriate. 34 CFR 300.43(a). In Wisconsin, the post-secondary goals, transition services, and course of study are documented together in a form called the post-secondary transition plan (PTP).
District staff explained that the student’s large, comprehensive high school is broken down into smaller learning communities featuring different post-secondary pathways and that part of the general education curriculum at the school involves students learning about different pathways, completing career inventories, and other activities to help students choose a learning community. Choosing a learning community does not commit the student to only taking classes related to the chosen pathway but provides direction and gives students in the learning community a common area of focus. The student who is the subject of this complaint chose the Academy of Business and Culinary Arts during their sophomore year of high school, which was during the 2020-21 school year. The student was initially identified as a student with a disability during the 2021-22 school year. The student’s initial IEP team, which included the student and their parents, created a PTP for the student based in part on the student’s previous career inventories and other activities that were included in the process of choosing a career pathway. The PTP indicated the student was interested in pursuing a career in the field of transportation, distribution, and logistics. The PTP contains all the required information.
The student’s PTP describes several transition services. Among them are work-based learning experiences to assist the student in finding a job during the school year and teaching the student interviewing skills. The student is on a waiting list for a youth apprenticeship program that is available to all students. District staff explained that they seek jobs for students in the community that align with the student’s chosen pathways but that many students do not get matched with jobs through the apprenticeship program. Since the complainant has raised concerns about the student’s transition services, district staff worked on interviewing skills with the student. District staff indicated that should the student be matched with a potential job, staff will work with the student to prepare for the specific interview for the position.
The student’s IEP team reconvened to develop the student’s annual IEP on October 21, 2022. The complainant raised concerns that DVR services were not offered to the student, nor was agency staff invited to the student’s IEP team meeting. District staff reported that the student is on track to graduate with a regular high school diploma. District staff indicated students with similar learning profiles and making similar progress does not require additional support to access DVR services. As such, DVR representatives are not routinely invited to IEP team meetings for similarly situated students. After the complainant and student raised the question of whether DVR would become involved with the student, staff provided information about how to contact DVR and apply for services, and the student has since completed the application. The IEP team also revised the PTP to reflect the student’s recent consideration of attending post-secondary school.
District staff explained that the special education case manager is responsible for monitoring the student’s progress toward achieving annual goals and is responsible for reporting that progress. All teachers have access to student IEPs and are responsible for knowing what accommodations and modifications are required for each student, and the case manager communicates with the teachers regarding implementation. The student’s IEP in effect at the beginning of the school year contained several supplementary aids and services, including extended time for tests, graphic organizers for writing assignments, use of the special education resource room for drop-in help with assignments and tests, tests read aloud, and providing the student with class notes. The IEP called for specially designed instruction in organization skills for 15 minutes per week, math two times per week for 15 minutes, and reading 90 minutes per session 90 times per year. The complainant raised concerns that the supplementary aids and services were not consistently provided and that the student’s math class was not appropriate for the student. The IEP team discussed the student’s math class and changed the student’s math course, where the student receives specially designed instruction. The student is enrolled in a 90-minute special education reading class. The student’s case manager provides 15 minutes per week of specially designed instruction in organization and monitoring homework completion. Prior to the IEP team meeting, the complainant was concerned that the student was not being provided with consistent graphic organizers or class notes. Since the meeting, staff has been providing these on a consistent basis. The district has properly developed and is properly implementing the student’s IEP.
Whether the district improperly made changes to the student’s IEP outside of an IEP team meeting.
Changes to an IEP may be made either by the entire IEP team or the district, and the parent may agree not to convene an IEP team meeting and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the student’s current IEP. 34 CFR 300.324(a)(4) and (6).
On May 11, 2022, district staff made changes to the student’s IEP outside of an IEP team meeting due to school-level scheduling changes to be effective during the 2022-23 school year. The district provided notice and documentation indicating that a district staff person contacted one of the student’s parents via email before making the change and that parent agreed to the change. The district did not improperly change the student’s IEP outside of a 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.