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IDEA Complaint Decision 24-016

On February 12, 2024, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (complainant) against the ####l (District). This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issues are described below and pertain to the 2023-24 school year.

Whether the district properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding the provision of a one-to-one paraprofessional, and regarding occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy.

School districts must provide each student with a disability with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LEA). LEAs meet their obligation to provide FAPE to each student with a disability, in part, by developing an IEP based on the student’s unique, disability-related needs that is reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress appropriate in light of the student’s circumstances, documenting that program in the IEP, and implementing the program as articulated in the IEP. For most students, the IEP must be designed to allow the student to progress from grade to grade, but if that is not possible, the IEP should be appropriately ambitious in light of the student’s circumstances. 34 CFR §§ 300.320-300.324; Wis. Stat. § 115.78[2]; Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, 137 S.Ct. 988. Each student's IEP must include a statement of the special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the student, 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). 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 who is the subject of the complaint is in seventh grade and has disability related needs in the areas of language, gross motor skills, self-help skills, and following directions. The student receives specialized instruction in academic readiness and speech, and related services of physical and occupational therapy. The student also has a health plan for a seizure disorder. Due to the student’s health and personal care needs, the student’s IEP includes a one-to-one paraprofessional.

The student started the 2023-24 school year working primarily with one paraprofessional. A second paraprofessional was hired the second week of school and trained to work with the student. The second paraprofessional is also a licensed Certified Nursing Assistant. The student’s original paraprofessional left the district in February 2024, and the paraprofessional that was hired in September 2023, became the student’s primary paraprofessional. The district also developed a schedule for trained staff to support the student if the paraprofessional was ever absent. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding the provision of a one-to-one paraprofessional.

The parent raised concerns that the district did not provide all of the student’s related services, especially when the parent chose to keep the student home from school. When the student was in attendance at school, the district provided occupational, physical, and speech therapy. The district provided the student’s attendance and a record of the student’s activities during these sessions, which were documented as part of each provider’s Medicaid billing documentation. During days the parent kept the student home from school, the district did not provide the services. On one occasion the physical therapist provided services in the student’s home at the parent’s request. However, the student’s placement is in the school. The IEP team has not determined that the student requires homebound services. The district properly provided related services as outlined by the IEP.

Whether the district properly provided the student's parents periodic reports on the progress the student is making toward meeting the annual IEP goals.

School districts must ensure periodic reports are provided to the parents of a student with a disability on the progress the student is making toward meeting each goal as specified in the student's IEP. 34 CFR §§ 300.320 (a)(3)(ii), 300.323(a); Wis. Stat. § 115.787. The report must address progress toward each stated, measurable goal or objective that is aligned with and directly related to the goal or objective statement and provide data or other information consistent with the baseline and level of attainment for the corresponding goal or objective. The reports must provide sufficient information so the parent can determine the degree to which the student has made progress toward meeting each goal or objective.

District staff mailed IEP progress reports to the student’s parent in November 2023 along with report cards. The progress report addressed each goal and provided the information using data that was consistent with the baseline and level of attainment. The parent informed the district they had not received the progress reports. District interviews confirm that staff provided an additional copy at an in-person meeting that took place November 7, 2023. The district properly provided a copy of the student’s progress reports.
Whether the district ensured special education services were provided by properly trained and licensed staff.

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

The parent alleges that staff were not properly trained to provide for the student’s medical needs, specifically the student’s seizure plan. The two paraprofessionals, school nurse, building principal, director of special education, and the student’s case manager comprise the student’s Seizure Action Plan Team (SAP). Each received training in the student’s seizure plan from the epilepsy foundation, the parent, and the school nurse. In addition, the building administrator included 23 additional staff that worked with the student as part of the epilepsy training to enable staff to recognize if the student was having a seizure in their presence.

Further, since the student started at the middle school, the district annually provides training from the epilepsy foundation. The student’s parent, and school nurse have also been involved on these training dates to provide additional information specific to the student. The district maintains documentation of the training provided. The district properly trained staff to provide for the student’s health needs.

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 or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.

For questions about this information, contact (608) 266-1781