IDEA Complaint Decision 03-037

On August 29, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are identified separately and addressed below.

  • Whether the district properly supervised a male aide trained by an outside consultant to work with the student.

The May 2002 IEP requires that the student receive supplementary aids and services, including that he will receive one-to-one assistance three hours daily and receive aide assistance with toileting needs and during travel between his home, school and community settings. In May 2002 the IEP team determined that the student no longer should receive assistance from a female aide. The district planned to employ the male aide who had worked with the student during the summer of 2002 in a private program under an arrangement with the district. Although this individual was not hired by the district, the district arranged with the private agency to have another male employee work with the student at the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year until the district could hire a male aide. The student in this complaint has been older than compulsory school attendance age during all of the time period under review. The parents chose not to have the student attend school until after the district hired a new male aide the third week of September. This new aide was trained by district staff and received additional training from the outside consultant associated with the private agency.

The complainant maintains that the new aide was not properly supervised. A district must ensure that professional teaching responsibilities are carried out by, or directly supervised by, a special education teacher who is licensed by the department. Direct supervision means regular, continuing interaction between the special education teacher and teacher aide which includes time to evaluate the services provided. There must be sufficient contact between the special education teacher and the teacher aide, and between the teacher and the student to enable the teacher to diagnose educational needs, prescribe teaching and learning procedures, and evaluate the effects of teaching. Several licensed district staff who worked with the student had sufficient direct daily contact with the aide and student to enable them to meet these requirements. The district provided training to the aide and met requirements related to his supervision.

  • Whether the district provided the student with a computer and printer and trained the student and his family how to use the computer; responded to the parent's request at a meeting to have low-vision staff review the student's use of the computer and install a program in the computer to prevent him from using other programs; and provided the student with low-vision services.

The computer was delivered to the student's home by district staff in May 2002. On that same day, district staff also provided training to the student and parents in how to use the computer. Additional training also was provided in October 2002. The printer was installed by district staff in November 2002, at which time a program was installed to prevent the student from using other programs. The district provided the equipment and training at issue in this complaint.

The May 2002 IEP requires that the student is to receive specialized instruction in functional vision and pre-Braille skills. The complainant alleges that the district did not provide these services until the latter part of September 2002. The district acknowledges that the student did not receive these services prior to the end of September. However, an IEP team which met on October 21, 2002, determined that the student would receive ongoing vision services pursuant to the IEP and in addition would receive eight weeks of service to replace the service which had not been provided until late September. No other corrective action is required.

  • Whether the district ensured that the student received vocational services between April and September 2002; participated in transitional employment programming at Creative Employment Opportunities during the summer and fall 2002; and afforded the student the opportunity to visit and select from a minimum of three vocational sites per semester.

In mid-April 2002 following an argument with another student, the student in this complaint stopped attending a worksite program the district had been providing in accordance with his IEP. District staff contacted the student's parents and were advised that their son would not return to the work site. An IEP team met twice in May 2002 and recorded in the present levels of performance section of the student's program that the student was not attending his program at the recommendation of a physician. As has been noted, the student was older than compulsory school attendance age at the time. The department concludes that the district made the program available to the student and staff attempted to elicit his involvement in the program.

The IEP team which met in May determined that the student would participate for four weeks during the summer of 2002 in a program provided by the district at a hospital work site where he would work on vocational skills. The student attended the program for only two weeks and would not return following an incident with another student at the site. The complainant maintains that district staff did not make sufficient attempts to encourage the student to return to the program. The district occupational therapist who worked one-on-one with the student at the work site called his home each day to determine whether he would return for work that day. She also went to the home four times to attempt to persuade him to return. The department concludes that the district made the program available to the student and staff attempted to elicit his involvement in the program.

The parents requested the district to place their son in one of three vocational choices they proposed for the fall semester 2002. The district attempted to arrange for him to participate at the site which it understood was the parents' first choice, but the site did not have space in the program for the student. The district then attempted to make arrangements at the two other sites the parents had identified, but learned that the parents no longer would agree to the use of those sites. The parents chose not to have their son attend his educational program in the fall of 2002. The department concludes that the district attempted to make a vocational site available to the student consistent with the parents' request.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed 10/30/03
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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