IDEA Complaint Decision 07-001

On January 8, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District (RUSD). This is the department’s decision for that complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning October 2006, provided occupational therapy (OT) services required by the individualized education programs (IEPs) of students who had been receiving OT services from a therapist identified in the complaint.

A school district must ensure that all services specified in a child’s IEP are provided. The district acknowledges that OT services were not provided as required by the IEPs of students who had been receiving OT services from a therapist identified in the complaint between October 30, 2006, and February 7, 2007. RUSD acknowledges that the district was understaffed in the area of OT when the therapist for the students went on maternity leave. Although the district took numerous measures to secure a substitute therapist, one was not hired until January 9, 2007. On January 10 the OT substitute started providing services to the students Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. On February 2, the other therapist returned from maternity leave and on February 7 started to provide direct service to some students as required by their IEPs. The substitute therapist currently continues to provide services to some students.

The occupational therapist’s student list, which changes on a weekly basis, contains multiple students. The district must determine: (1) the OT services (number of minutes) in each student’s IEP assigned to the therapist between October 30 and February 7, 2007; (2) the amount of service each student received between October 30 and February 7; and (3) the difference between the amount of service each student received and the amount required in each student’s IEP. Using the IEP review and revision process, the district then must determine and document for each student whether additional OT services are needed in light of the amount of service which was not provided and the effect this loss of service had on assisting the students to benefit from special education. The department also accepts the additional corrective actions outlined in the district’s January 25 complaint response to ensure central office staff and principals are trained to, and provide coverage for, special education services when services are interrupted by staff absence and inform or respond to parents in a timely manner if a student’s special education services are interrupted. The district will send the department evidence it has completed these activities by June 30, 2007.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 3/2/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jdf

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