IDEA Complaint Decision 03-050

On November 19, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Nicolet Union High School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are identified separately and addressed below.

  • Whether the district properly determined supplementary aids and services related to test taking to include in the individualized education program (IEP) for the period November 19, 2002, to March 31, 2003.

The IEP developed in May 2002 does not include supplementary aids and services related to test taking. The team determined that in light of the student's performance extra time to complete tests no longer was needed. Student-specific data considered by the IEP team in May 2002 supported the decision that test accommodations no longer were needed. The district considered the student's need for testing accommodations and concluded they were not necessary.

  • Whether the district properly notified the parents of an IEP team meeting held March 27, 2003;
  • Properly responded to a parent's May 2003 request for an IEP team meeting; and
  • Properly responded to a parent's request in June 2003 for access to the student's education records.

The district maintains that on March 26 it sent the parent an invitation to an IEP team meeting to be conducted on March 27 when parent-teacher conferences were scheduled. The district provided the department with a copy of its notice, but the parent maintains she did not receive the notice. The parent met with the student's special education teacher during parent-teacher conferences on March 27. The teacher discussed changes in the student's special education program with the parent. Other IEP team participants identified on the notice did not participate in this discussion with the parent. The district revised the student's IEP on March 27 without conducting a meeting of the IEP team. The notice attached to the IEP which was modified on March 27 is the notice provided to the parent the previous May. It projects that the IEP will be implemented beginning May 24, 2002. The parent maintains that she did not receive a copy of this IEP from the district, and it was not until she reviewed her child's records in June 2003 that she became aware of the program change. The district did not provide the parent with proper notice of the proposed program change made on March 27.

An IEP team which included the parent met in August 2003 to consider changes in the student's program. The district provided the parent with prior written notice of the changes to the student's program made by the team in August. No further child specific corrective action is required. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district will submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure that revisions to IEPs are made only in IEP team meetings and that prior written notice of proposed program changes is provided to parents.

The parent maintains that in mid-May 2003 she requested an IEP team meeting. The district did not arrange an IEP team meeting until late August 2003, just before the beginning of the 2003-2004 school year. The parents and district differ regarding the circumstances related to the delay in scheduling the IEP team meeting. The parent was provided with prior written notice of program changes proposed at the August 2003 meeting and with a placement determination. Although changes were made in the student's program in March 2003, the parent was not properly involved in making program changes; and a proper notice of program change was not provided to the parent. Prior to August 2003, the last time the district properly determined the student's program and placement was May 17, 2002. Districts must ensure that a child's IEP is reviewed and a placement is determined at least annually. The district did not meet these requirements for this student. The district was required to determine the child's placement on or before May 17, 2003. Because an IEP team meeting which included a placement determination for this student was conducted in August 2003, no additional child specific corrective action is required. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district will submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure that the district reviews each student's IEP and determines each student's placement at least annually.

In June 2003 the parents requested that the district send copies of their child's student records to their attorney. The district provided the records to the attorney later in the month. The records included a copy of the March 2003 IEP. At the August 2003 IEP team meeting district staff distributed copies of the March 2003 IEP which differed from the one the parents' attorney received in June. The parents maintain the district did not provide them with copies of all their child's records in June and that they did not have the correct version of the March 2003 IEP prior to the August 2003 IEP team meeting. The district conducted another IEP team meeting for the student in September. In October 2003 an attorney for the district wrote to the parent's attorney addressing several concerns, including the circumstances related to the difference in records. Because the parents had all of their child's records prior to the September 2003 IEP team meeting, no additional corrective action is required.

  • Whether the district implemented the student's IEP in January 2003 regarding educating the student with students who do not have disabilities; after January 2003 regarding administration of medication; during the 2002-2003 school year regarding providing bi-weekly progress reports.

The IEP in effect in December 2002 and January 2003 permits the student to request individualized instruction for study skills in the special education room for up to 50 minutes each day. The IEP identifies the circumstances which permit the student to request the services. The remaining six periods of instruction are to be in regular education classes. Written materials pertaining to early December 2002 indicate that the student was spending the entire day in special education class as recommended by the student's physician. The parent maintains that in January 2003 the student participated full time in educational settings with students who do not have disabilities. The district maintains that the student wanted to be in regular education classes during this period.

The IEP in effect during December 2002 and January 2003 permitted placement in regular education settings six periods per day and in the special education room one period at student request. The district was required to hold an IEP team meeting to consider the doctor's recommendation of full-day special education placement before removing the student to the special education room for more than one period per day. No child-specific corrective action is required because an IEP team has changed the student's program and placement for the 2003-2004 school year. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district will submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure that an IEP team properly determines the extent of each student's participation in regular education with student's who do not have disabilities.

The letter of complaint maintains that the district did not provide the student with required medication after January 2003. None of the IEPs in effect between January 2003 and the time the complaint was filed requires administration of medication. The district made the medication available to the student according to general district procedures. It acknowledges that the student did not receive medication on several occasions, but it promptly took steps to ensure that the medication was provided. While the district agreed to administer the medication, it was not a required related service for the student. The IEPs in effect during the 2002-2003 school year require progress reports approximately every two weeks for both regular and special education classes. The content of the reports is not specified. The district provided copies of progress reports from the student's teachers, though not for every two-week period for each teacher. The parents maintain that while they did receive progress reports, they often were delayed and sometimes did not receive any from some teachers. They also believe that some reports did not provide the information they felt they needed. The IEPs developed in August and September 2003 require weekly progress reports via email coordinated by the special education teacher. The department concludes that the district did provide progress reports to the parents, but not for each class every two weeks. The more recent IEPs provide a mechanism for more timely reporting and assign responsibility for ensuring report completion. No additional corrective action is required.

  • Whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, provided services to the student required to address needs resulting from the student's disability.

During the August and September 2003 IEP team meetings, the parents advocated with the district for placement in a private school for the student. The parents also provided the IEP teams with recommendations from professionals familiar with their child's educational needs who also recommended private placement. The student had attended the private school during the summer and for a portion of the day during the first months of school in the fall of 2003. The student stopped attending school in the district later in the fall. The IEPs developed during the fall 2003 meetings properly note that the district considered the parent's proposal and include reasons why the IEP team rejected the proposal. The reasons relate to the student's educational needs and are supported by information contained in these and previous IEPs. District staff concluded that they are familiar with the student's educational needs, that the program described in the IEPs would meet the student's educational needs and would enable the student to be in regular education classes with students who do not have disabilities.

The August and September IEPs require instruction in special education all but one period per day, but permit the student to return to the regular education environment when specified preconditions are met. This represents a significant increase over the amount of instruction in the special education classroom compared with previous IEPs. The IEPs also call for additional supplementary aids and services and program modifications and supports for school personnel compared with earlier IEPs. The present levels of educational performance in the IEPs describe student needs and successes both academically and in other areas where the student requires additional support. The programming decisions made by the IEP team relate to the needs identified in the present levels of performance. The department concludes that in developing the student's educational program for the 2003-2004 school year, the district followed required procedures, reached determinations reasonably supported by student-specific data and offered services required to address needs resulting from the student's disability.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 2/20/04
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