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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-018

On March 31, 2017 (form dated March 28, 2017), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton School District. The issue is whether the district, during the 2016-17 school year, properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding speech and language services.

School districts are responsible for ensuring that each student with a disability receives a free appropriate public education by providing special education and related services in conformity with the student’s IEP. The student’s IEP must be accessible to each regular education teacher, special education teacher, or service provider who is responsible for its implementation. In addition, the district must inform all regular education teachers, special education teachers, or other providers of their specific responsibilities related to implementing each student’s IEP. Each service must be implemented as written consistent with the amount, frequency, and location specified in the IEP.

The IEP in effect for the 2016-17 school year includes speech and language therapy to address the student’s articulation and grammar skills. The statement of present level of academic achievement and functional performance details the student’s needs in the areas of math, reading, and speech and language. Annual goals address each area. Each annual goal is measurable, includes baseline information and a level of attainment, and addresses the student’s needs. However, the student’s annual speech and language goal does not list the procedures for measuring the student’s progress toward meeting the goal. The IEP includes specialized instruction in reading, math, and speech and language therapy. The IEP indicates the student is to receive speech and language therapy for 40 minutes, once per week, in the speech therapy room. When asked, the district was unable to provide information confirming the student was provided speech and language therapy services as described in the IEP. Documentation provided by district staff and information obtained through district staff interviews were inconsistent regarding dates and times that speech and language services were provided. The speech and language pathologist did not keep accurate records of the dates the student received speech and language services and did not consistently monitor progress of IEP goals. The district did not properly implement the student’s IEP regarding speech and language services.

In fall 2016, the parent contacted the district with concerns that the speech and language services were not provided consistent with the student’s IEP. The district conducted an investigation and determined that the student was not provided all speech and language services from September 1 to December 1. On March 7, 2017, the IEP team met and determined that the student would receive an additional 25 minutes of compensatory services for the remaining 12 weeks of school. Although the district will provide a total of 300 hours minutes of compensatory services by the end of the year, the student should have been provided a total of 520 hours minutes of speech and language services from September 1 to December 1.

The district must reconvene the IEP team within 30 days of the date of this decision to determine whether or not additional compensatory services are needed and, if so, how much compensatory services are needed. Compensatory services should aim to remedy educational deficits that resulted because of a failure to provide a free appropriate public education. A copy of the complete IEP, including documentation of the discussion of compensatory services, must be submitted to the department no later than 15 days following the IEP team meeting. If the IEP team determines that additional compensatory services are needed because the student did not receive the full extent of the speech and language services from September 1 to December 1, the services must be provided outside the regular hours of the school day and by a different speech and language therapist. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure that appropriate speech and language services are provided in accordance with each student’s IEP and ensure each IEP contains a procedure for measuring progress. The district must submit to the department all documentation of individualized determinations regarding compensatory services for each affected student.

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.

//signed 6/8//17 by CST
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support


For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158