On March 25, 2005, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Portage Community School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2004-2005 school year:
- Implemented the student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding monthly consultative visits by an educational consultant, completion of a reading skill assessment, services to enable the child to meet an IEP math goal, use of social skills curriculum to address social skill deficits, and support by a classroom aide; and
- Modified the student's IEP without conducting an IEP team meeting.
The child's IEP for the 2004-2005 school year was developed on June 2, 2004. The complaint alleges monthly consultative visits by an educational consultant are not occurring as specified in the child's IEP. The parents contend the educational consultant provided staff training twice between September and March and did not provide direct services to the student. The parents understand services specified in the IEP to mean the child will receive direct services from an autism consultant one-half day each month. Program modifications and supports for school personnel specified in the child's IEP include six half-days of staff training during the year, as well as observation and consultation by an autism specialist one-half day each month in the regular and special education environments. A log submitted by the district documents services provided once in December and two dates in March. Each district must provide special education and related services to a child with a disability in accordance with the child's IEP. The district did not provide monthly consultative visits by an educational consultant as specified in the child's IEP. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district is directed to reconvene an IEP team meeting to determine if additional services are needed as a result of not providing services as specified in the IEP.
The complaint alleges the IEP team discussed the need for a reading assessment to be conducted in September 2004, but the assessment did not occur. The IEP team discussed the child's involvement in district-wide and statewide assessments as well as the results of several tests that were conducted as part of the child's reevaluation in June 2004. The IEP documents that the student has deficits in word decoding that affect his involvement and progress in the general curriculum. As part of any reevaluation, a review of existing evaluation data and input from the child's parents must occur to identify what additional data, if any, are needed to determine whether any additions or modifications to the special education and related services are needed to enable the child to meet the measurable annual goals set out in the IEP of the child and to participate, as appropriate, in the general curriculum. Parents were involved in the determination. The district maintains additional testing in reading was not identified as a need during the June 2, 2004, IEP team meeting. At the IEP team meeting to be reconvened within 30 days, the district should discuss with the parents the need for additional testing in reading.
The parents allege their child is not receiving 45 minutes daily of math instruction in the special education classroom in order to progress to the 4th grade level in math as specified in the child's IEP. They are concerned their child is involved in other activities during math time. The child's IEP indicates the child will receive 45 minutes daily of alternate math curriculum in the special education classroom during the 2004-2005 school year. The district maintains the student is receiving 45 minutes daily of math instruction in the special education classroom except when the school schedule is interrupted for all students by early release days, parent-teacher conference days, concert days, a talent show day, and a mini-course day. A progress note dated April 6, 2005, indicates the child has successfully completed the 3rd grade level book in the math series. Additional progress notes included in the IEP indicate the student is making sufficient progress to increase math skills to a 4th grade level by the end of the school year, the goal specified in the IEP. A district is not required to provide services to children with disabilities under circumstances when all children are excused from attending school unless otherwise provided in the IEP. The district is providing math instruction in accordance with the child's IEP.
The complaint alleges the district is not using a social skills curriculum to address the child's social skill deficits as discussed at the IEP team meeting. The child's IEP developed on June 2, 2004, for the 2004-2005 school year, includes a goal related to increasing social interaction skills and specifies that social skills training will occur 30-50 minutes weekly in the special education classroom or regular education classroom. The IEP also specifies the child will participate in social skills training during lunch once per week for 30 minutes. Social skills curriculum is not specified in the IEP. A progress statement included in the IEP dated April 2005 indicates the use of a social skills lessons book with the student. The district maintains that a social skills curriculum was used to address the child's social skill deficits but was found ineffectual. The district is currently using experiences in the child's life for training on social skills. A district is not required to involve parents in the determination of teaching methodology and may need to alter methodology during the school year based on the individual needs of a child. This change may occur without conducting an IEP team meeting unless the IEP specifically requires a particular methodology. The district is providing social skills training in accordance with the child's IEP.
The complainants are unclear if the supports by a classroom aide specified in the child's IEP are being provided. Assignments and tests handwritten by the child indicate supports are not consistently provided. The district maintains a classroom aide is providing services to the child during the classes specified in the child's IEP. The IEP specifies the child requires a scribe and the child will receive staff support during social studies, science, and language arts classes. The IEP further clarifies the student is to use oral responses on any assignment or test that requires more than a one phrase response. Based upon the student's performance on assignments and tests it is apparent that supports are not being provided. Each district must ensure that each teacher and provider is informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the child's IEP and of the specific accommodations and supports that must be provided for the child in accordance with the IEP. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district will ensure that the child's teachers and providers are informed of the child's needs and provide the appropriate supports.
The complaint alleges the district modified the student's IEP without conducting an IEP team meeting. An IEP team meeting was held on June 2, 2004, for the purpose of developing the child's annual IEP. The parents were provided a draft copy of the IEP and notice of placement on the same date. The parents contend meetings were held in August 2004 and February 2005 which resulted in modifications to the child's IEP services including changes in personnel providing services and the addition of a full-time aide. The district maintains no meetings have occurred since the June 2, 2004, IEP team meeting to revise the child's IEP. There is no documentation in the IEP of a full-time aide. Each public agency must provide notice to ensure that parents of children with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in IEP team meetings. A meeting does not include informal or unscheduled conversations involving public agency personnel and conversations on issues such as teaching methodology, lesson plans, or coordination of service provision if those issues are not addressed in the child's IEP. The district discussed personnel issues outside of an IEP team meeting, but services specified in the child's IEP were not altered as a result. There is no violation by the district.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 5/16/05
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy