On May 6 and 10, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Janesville. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year:
- Implemented a child's individualized education program (IEP) regarding providing consistent adult support, providing a classroom with reduced visual distractions, providing visual cues related to scheduling and foreshadowing routines, providing a small student:teacher ratio, providing occupational therapy services, expanding his flexibility in social interactions, and providing consistency regarding transitions and breaks; and
- Whether the district properly shared portions of the student's records with a psychologist employed by another school district.
On June 11, 2003, an IEP team meeting was held to determine initial eligibility, develop an initial IEP and determine initial placement for a child identified as having autism and a speech/language disability. The IEP listed an implementation date of September 2, 2003. Parents signed the consent for placement on August 26, 2003.
The IEP developed at the June 11, 2003, meeting under supplementary aids and services listed "adult support for transitions and breaks" with the frequency and amount stated as "as needed as determined by school staff." The IEP also listed "training for staff" and "consultation with Janesville Autism team" under program modifications and supports with the frequency and amount stated as "as needed as determined by school staff" for each item.
The amount of services to be provided must be stated in the IEP so the level of the agency's commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team members. The use of "as needed" to describe the amount of service to be provided to a child does not clearly describe the level of commitment of district resources.
The IEP contained a statement identifying occupational therapy services as related services that listed "individual or small group two times per week twenty minutes per session. The parent alleges that occupational therapy services were not implemented for a period of one month when the regular occupational therapist was on leave. There is no evidence to support this allegation.
Under Special Factors, the IEP stated that the child will need the following: strategies to support transition times throughout his school day, breaks built into his school day, consistent adult support when breaks are needed, a classroom environment that reduces visual distractions, foreshadowing of the day's routine, use of visual cues and schedule, a sensory area to go to when over stimulated, flexibility with school rules, and consistency in who facilitates transitions and breaks.
If an IEP team determines, through consideration of special factors, that a child requires a particular service, intervention, or program modification, a statement to this effect must be included in the child's IEP. The IEP implemented in September of 2003 did not contain statements to specify the services required to address the needs listed under Special Factors.
On May 3, 2004, a special education secretary from the district office received a fax from a second district to send records. This secretary did send student records to the second district on this same date. The second district confirmed that it did not have a current release and no parent consent was on file. The district acknowledges that an error occurred. On May 19, 2004, the district reviewed with all central office secretaries who work with pupil records, procedures to follow under board policy to transfer student records to another district. No further corrective action is required.
On February 17, 2004, the district received a letter from the parents informing the district of their decision to take the child out of the early childhood program. On March 29, 2004, the district sent the parents a letter stating that if the child were to reenroll, an IEP meeting would be held.
Because the child has been withdrawn from school, no child-specific corrective actions are required at this time. The district has agreed to provide training in the requirements for appropriate IEP statements, including amount and type of special education services to address identified needs, at the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year.
On or before September 30, 2004, the district will provide written documentation to the department verifying staff training in the areas of proper pupil records procedures, as well as requirements for completing appropriate IEP statements.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 7/6/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy