IDEA Complaint Decision 03-039

On September 30, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received complaint letters under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wrightstown Community School District. This is the department's decision regarding their complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2002-2003 school year:

  • Implemented the behavioral interventions in the individualized education program (IEP) for a child with a disability, including measuring the child's progress toward meeting annual goals related to behavior as required in the IEP; and
  • Developed an IEP for the 2003-2004 school year which included required positive behavioral interventions for the child, properly considered the parents' concerns to include autism consultation in the IEP for enhancing their child's education, and properly considered the child's progress during the 2002-2003 school year toward reaching the behavior-related goals in the IEP.

The IEP for the 2002-2003 school year was completed during four meetings held between April 5 and May 2, 2002. The parents allege that the district failed to properly implement the behavioral interventions in this IEP and did not measure the child's progress toward meeting annual goals related to behavior as required in the IEP. The special factors page of this IEP indicates that the student's behavior impedes his learning or that of others. Behavioral incident reports submitted to the department by the district indicate that throughout the fall of 2002 the student did exhibit behaviors which impaired his learning or the learning of others. If the IEP team determines that the student's behavior is interfering with the student's learning or that of others, the team must consider strategies, including positive interventions and supports to address the behavior.

The IEP does not specify the behavior which interferes with the student's learning or the learning of other students. It provides that inappropriate behaviors are to be redirected, but does not indicate the behaviors which are inappropriate. Instead, the IEP outlines a three point process for identifying behaviors to be addressed. The process refers to a behavior modification plan that is to be developed to extinguish or reduce behavior. In its written response to the complaint, the district indicates that no behavior modification plans were developed during the 2002-2003 school year because the behaviors varied significantly from day to day or week to week and baselines could not be established and that, consequently, measuring progress toward behavioral goals in the 2002-2003 IEP was difficult due to inconsistencies.

The IEP provides that the student will receive behavior intervention as special education. However, the frequency and amount noted for this service is "Daily (As needed)." The amount of services to be provided must be stated in the IEP, so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team members. The amount must be appropriate to the specific service, and stated in the IEP in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in both the development and implementation of the IEP. If it is not appropriate to state the amount of service by indicating an amount of time, the IEP may describe the circumstances under which the service is needed.

The IEP neither identified the behavior which was interfering with the child's learning or the learning of others nor did it specify the nature and amount of behavior intervention the child was to receive during the 2002-2003 school year. Within thirty days, the school district will develop a corrective action plan to ensure that when IEP teams conclude that a student's behavior impedes learning, teams must consider strategies, including positive interventions and supports to address the behavior. During its recent onsite review of district compliance with procedural requirements, the department directed the district to undertake corrective measures related to including in IEPs an appropriate statement of the amount of service to be provided to students. The district need not take additional measures related to this requirement through its corrective action for this complaint. Because the district included positive behavioral interventions in the student's 2003-2004 IEP, no child specific corrective action is required.

The IEP for the 2003-2004 school year was developed over three meetings in February and March of 2003. The parents allege that the district failed to develop a positive behavioral intervention plan. The IEP contains goals that provided for positive behavioral supports. The parents further allege that the district did not properly consider the parents' concerns regarding including autism consultation in the IEP. The parents wanted the district to contract with a consultant they selected. The IEP team did specify in the IEP that consultation was to be provided by an autism consultant as a program modification and support for school personnel. The district contracted with an autism consultant other than the one the parents requested. The district provided the department with written documentation identifying dates and summaries of services provided by the consultant. The district provided the consultation required in the IEP.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 12/1/03 by SJP
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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