IDEA Complaint Decision 02-023

On April 1, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Rhinelander School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, between March 15 and March 22, 2002, failed to provide the special education instruction required in the individualized education program (IEP) of a child with a disability.

The child's IEP requires 135 minutes per day of hearing impaired program services. Although the parent complains that the district did not provide required services to her son on March 15, records submitted by the district indicate that school was not in session due to inclement weather on that day. The district acknowledges that their teacher of the hearing impaired was absent from school on vacation from March 18 through March 22. The teacher of the hearing impaired developed activities for the child which she provided to the educational interpreter for use during the week she was on vacation. According to the district, the educational interpreter worked with the child on these activities daily for 135 minutes. The district claimed the educational interpreter was working with the complainant's child in a room with either the multicategorical teacher or the speech/language therapist present to supervise her activities. Both are licensed special education teachers.

The department concludes, based on staff interviews, that the district's licensed multicategorical teacher was absent on maternity leave during the week of March 18 through March 22. The child worked with the interpreter under the supervision of the speech/language therapist for approximately one-hour per day during the week of March 18 through March 22. The interpreter and the child also worked in the school library to research a specific project on deaf culture for an unspecified period of time during this week.

The goals in the child's IEP include communication and behavioral objectives, written and oral language objectives, and math objectives. The lesson plans developed by the teacher of the hearing impaired indicate that the child was supported by the interpreter in the following activities during the teacher's absence from March 18 through March 22: language review, vocabulary, free writing in a journal, reading and discussing specific assignments, signing, and playing math games. These activities relate to the goals in the child's IEP. The child received these services under the supervision of a licensed speech/language therapist for only sixty minutes per day. The district has not shown and the department cannot find that it provided the child with 135 minutes of hearing impaired services per day required by the IEP; consequently, the district must undertake corrective action.

The district is not required to complete child-specific corrective action because the child left the district to attend the Wisconsin School for the Deaf shortly after the March vacation period described in this decision. The district is directed to provide an assurance to the department indicating how it will provide all special education services required by a child's IEP whenever a special education teacher is absent due to illness or vacation.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 7/12/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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