On March 6, 2023 (form dated February 20, 2023), 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 issue is whether the district, beginning the 2022-23 school year, improperly made changes to the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability outside of an IEP team meeting.
In developing each student's IEP, the IEP team must address the student’s needs that result from the student's disability in order to enable the student to be involved and make appropriate progress in the general education curriculum and toward their IEP goals and meet the student's other educational needs that result from the student's disability. Changes to a student's IEP may be made after the annual IEP team meeting by the IEP team at an IEP team meeting, or upon agreement of the parent and the district, the district may develop a written document to amend or modify the child's current IEP without holding an IEP team meeting. 34 CFR § 300.324(a)(4). A change of placement for a student must take place in an IEP team meeting. Wis. Stats. §§ 115.78(2)(c); 115.79. Due to hardships created by school closures related to the coronavirus pandemic, the department temporarily allowed districts to make placement changes outside of an IEP team meeting with parent agreement. This temporary exception ended at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.
The student who is the subject of this complaint attends sixth grade in the district. The student’s parent raised a concern that the student’s IEP, revised on November 4, 2022, did not include a disability-related need, annual goal, or services to address math. Additionally, the student’s parent expressed concern that the location of the student’s specialized instruction in language arts was changed from a special education location to a regular education classroom. The parent was concerned that the district made these changes to the student’s IEP outside of IEP team meetings.
The IEP in effect at the beginning of the period of time relevant to this complaint had most recently been revised on February 14, 2022. The IEP identified the student as having a disability-related need in math problem solving and included an annual math goal and specially designed math instruction provided twice per week.
The district conducted a reevaluation on April 22, 2022, including consideration of continuing eligibility for other health impairment (OHI) and a new disability category, specific learning disability (SLD). In preparation for the reevaluation, the district conducted intensive interventions with the student to address six areas of SLD concern, including math calculation and math problem-solving. During intensive interventions, the student demonstrated adequate classroom achievement in all six areas of concern and sufficient progress in four areas of concern, including both areas addressing math. Due to the student’s positive responses to these interventions, the student’s IEP team determined the student did not meet the criteria for SLD. The student continued to meet the criteria for OHI.
On May 4, 2022, the parent and district agreed in writing to change the student’s IEP without a meeting, reducing the frequency of the student’s specialized writing instruction from three days per week to two days per week. The agreement did not address or change the student’s IEP regarding math needs, annual goals, or services.
The IEP team met to update the student’s IEP in light of the reevaluation on May 12, 2022. The IEP team discussed the student’s success in intensive math interventions and early completion of the existing annual math goal. Based on this progress, the team removed both the disability-related need and annual goal related to math. To ensure the student would continue to have some support in the area of math, the team replaced the existing statement with specially designed instruction in study skills, including guided practice within math and language arts, provided twice per week. The IEP team updated the IEP’s program summary so it accurately described the services to be provided to the student. However, the team neglected to revise the statement explaining the extent of the removal from the regular education environment, which had been carried over from the previous IEP. That statement indicated the student was to “receive special education support through math intervention, reading intervention, writing intervention and language arts pullout environment for half of the class period.” The district provided a copy of the finalized IEP to the parent on May 19, 2022, prior to implementation and prior to recognizing the clerical error in the statement explaining the extent of the student’s removal from the regular education environment. Following the IEP team meeting, the district began to implement the revised services in the IEP as written in the program summary. Because this was a clerical error and did not affect the implementation of the IEP, no corrective action is required.
The program summary section of all of the IEPs in effect for the student during the 2022-23 school year has included two separate entries describing language arts services. The first is specially designed instruction for thirty minutes daily located in the special education classroom, and the second is specially designed instruction for thirty minutes daily located in the regular education classroom. The student’s specially designed instruction was unchanged from the previous IEP. The descriptions of the student’s removal from the regular education environment for language arts have been consistent. The district did not improperly change the student’s IEP outside of an 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.