IDEA Complaint Decision 04-036

On August 23, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Green Bay Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year:

  • Included in the individualized education program (IEP) of a child with a disability proper statements of the child's present levels of educational performance and annual goals related to reading and language arts based on the student's needs and the amounts of special education and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals; and
  • Provided special education and supplementary aids and services in reading and language arts to the student in accordance with his IEP.

The parents allege that the statements of the student's present levels of educational performance and annual goals in the IEPs developed in June 2003 and May 2004 were not consistent because the baseline information and annual goals for reading and language arts in the IEPs contain conflicting information. The June 2003 IEP indicates that the student is reading at approximately the 5th grade level and establishes an annual goal for reading of between a 5.7 and 6.5 grade level. The May 2004 IEP indicates that the student is reading at the mid-5th grade level with a goal of late 5th grade level or higher. Test results reported for spring 2004 which are included in the May 2004 IEP establish the reading level in the present level of performance. While the student did not make the progress proposed in the goal in the June 2003 IEP, the testing did indicate that the student made progress in reading. The reading goal in the May 2004 IEP does set a level of attainment which is higher than the present level of performance and which is attainable within one year. The present levels of educational performance in both IEPs describe in detail how the student's disability affects his involvement and progress in the general reading curriculum. The annual reading goal contains short-term objectives. The district included the required statements of present levels of educational performance and goals for reading for the 2003-2004 school year.

The June 2003 IEP includes a present level of performance for writing indicating that the student is performing at approximately the 4th grade level, with an annual writing goal of 4.5 grade level or higher. The May 2004 IEP indicates that the present level of educational performance for language is late 6th grade level, with an annual goal of late 5th to early 6th grade level or higher. Interviews with district staff establish that the annual goal in May 2004 focuses on a specific sub skill where the student is performing at a lower level than in the general category of language. As a result, the present level of educational performance reflects his general skills level is higher than the annual goal which addresses the specific sub skill. The significant change in present level of educational performance between the two IEPs resulted from a change in how performance was measured. Again, the present levels of educational performance in both IEPs describe in detail how the student's disability affects his involvement and progress in the general language arts curriculum. The annual language goal contains short-term objectives. The district included required statements of present levels of educational performance and goals in language for the 2003-2004 school year.

The June 2003 and May 2004 IEPs both state that the student will receive one period of language arts and one period of resource instruction in the special education room, with the remainder of instruction occurring in regular education settings. Both IEPs require supplemental aids and services in regular education and other settings. The amount of each service is clearly stated in the IEPs.

In their complaint, the parents quote from comments in the quarterly progress reports from the special education teacher. These teacher comments describe poor student progress. The parents concluded from these comments that their child was not progressing toward his annual goals. The complaint letter alleges that the special education teacher did not provide special education and supplemental aids and services to their child during the 2003-2004 school year as required in the IEP. The student received the amount of instruction required in the IEP in the special education classroom. The special education teacher did provide the supplemental aids and services required in the IEP. The June 2004 IEP indicates that the student is receiving average grades in his classes. Despite the teacher's negative comments in progress reports to the parents, the IEP also indicates that the student made progress in reading and language arts. A note at the bottom of the progress report from a different special education teacher who participated in the development of the May 2004 IEP indicates that based on recent testing, the student met his language arts goal. The department determines that the district provided special education and supplementary aids and services in reading and language arts to the student in accordance with his IEP.

Nevertheless, the district has responded to this complaint in several ways. District staff contacted the parent after receiving the complaint and arranged a meeting in October to discuss their concerns. Initial discussions with the parents indicated that the student was doing very well with the new special education teacher who is providing instruction this year and that they are pleased with the education their child is receiving. The district has provided guidance to the teacher from last year related to the parents' concerns, particularly around reporting student progress to parents. Finally, in light of its self-review in response to this complaint, the district has modified previously scheduled staff training to include guidance for enhancing the quality of present levels of performance and annual goals statements and for reporting student progress to parents.

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

//signed CST 10/22/04
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