IDEA Complaint Decision 02-012

On February 11, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Howard-Suamico School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2001-2002 school year, failed to:

  • notify the parent of a child with a disability of individualized education program (IEP) team meetings;
  • provide the parent with a copy of her child's current IEP in a timely manner;
  • implement the child's IEP regarding transition services;
  • follow required procedures related to disciplining a child with a disability; and
  • consider behavior impeding the child's learning or the learning of other children when developing the child's IEP.

The parent alleges the district failed to notify her of the IEP team meeting held during the 2001-2002 school year. The district submitted to the department a copy of the written notice sent to the parent prior to the November 20, 2001, IEP team meeting; the only meeting prior to the filing of this complaint. The parent acknowledged that while she did not receive a written notice for the November 20 meeting, she did receive a telephone call from the special education teacher informing her of this meeting. The parent and the youth attended this meeting. The department concludes that the district properly notified the parent prior to the November 20 IEP team meeting.

The parent alleges the district failed to provide her with a copy of her child's current IEP in a timely manner during the 2001-2002 school year. The parent indicated she received a copy of the November 20 IEP by mail on January 29, 2002. In a statement provided to the department, the district indicated a copy of the current IEP was mailed to the parent approximately two weeks after the November 20 IEP team meeting. The district also stated that IEPs are typically mailed out within a week following the IEP team meeting, but due to the Thanksgiving break, the youth's IEP was mailed after the holiday. The placement notice indicated the IEP would be implemented on November 20. The district provided notice to the parent after it began implementing the IEP. State law requires a district to provide a child's parents prior written notice of a change in the provision of free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child or of a change in educational placement. The notice must be sent so that the parents receive it in a reasonable time before the district starts to implement a revised IEP or begins a new placement for the child. Information Update Bulletin 01.03 notes that this is a common error found by the department's review of districts' implementation of procedural requirements. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department a proposed corrective action plan to ensure that the district provides parents with a copy of a child's IEP in a timely manner.

The parent alleges the district failed to implement her child's IEP regarding transition services during the 2001-2002 school year. During a phone interview with the parent, she indicated that while the district implemented all of the transition services stated on the IEP, she also felt that these services did not meet her child's needs. On March 11, 2002, the IEP team met to review and revise the youth's IEP and included additional transition services in the IEP. The department concludes that the district implemented the transition services as stated in the youth's November 20 IEP, and addressed the parent's other concerns by conducting an IEP team meeting after this complaint was filed.

The parent alleges the district failed to follow the required procedures related to disciplining a child with a disability. The pupil services director indicated the youth had seven out-of-school day suspensions as of February 18, 2002. At the November 20 IEP team meeting, the team determined the youth's behavior impeded his learning and took preliminary action to conduct a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) and to develop a positive behavioral intervention plan. On March 4, 2002, the IEP team reviewed the FBA results and developed a behavioral intervention plan. Based on materials submitted by the district and discussions with the parent and the pupil services director, the department concludes that the district followed the required procedures related to disciplining a child with a disability and took appropriate actions when addressing the behavioral needs of this youth.

The parent alleges the district failed to consider whether the youth's behavior impeded his learning or the learning of other children when developing the youth's IEP. At the November 20 IEP team meeting, the team considered the youth's behavior and agreed it did impede his learning. The IEP team considered the youth's behavior as a special factor and wrote into the IEP that the youth will receive "8 to 1 positive Dubuque Behavior Management System, small group setting, and team taught classes." At this meeting, the IEP team also determined a FBA would be conducted. On March 4, the IEP team members reviewed the FBA results and developed a behavioral intervention plan. The department concludes that the district considered whether the youth's behavior impeded his learning or the learning of other children and took action to assist the student.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 4/9/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/svb
For questions about this information, contact Patricia Williams (608) 267-3720