On March 23, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Ashwaubenon School District. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2006-2007 school year;
- Properly implemented a students individualized education program (IEP) regarding use of an assistive technology communication device;
- Properly determined the extent to which the student would participate with students who do not have a disability in regular class and extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and
- Ensured the required IEP team members attended team meetings.
An IEP team meeting was held on February 27, 2007, for the purpose of developing an annual IEP, reviewing and revising an IEP, developing a statement of transition goals and services, and determining placement. The student, who is nonverbal, communicates by using an assistive technology device. The parent alleges the district is not using the assistive technology device specified in the IEP.
Each public agency must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services are made available to a student with a disability if required as part of the students special education, related services or supplementary aids and services.
The parent alleges that the IEP is written for a specific personal talker called MT4 and alleges this personal talker is listed in the IEP. The parent believes it is the only device that can be used to properly implement the IEP. The district contends the student needs a voice output device and is able to communicate successfully using other assistive technology devices, although the district recently purchased a MT4 that is dedicated to the student.
The IEP states "the student needs to be encouraged significantly and/or required to interact consistently throughout the day with her [personal] AAC device. The IEP has two goals that refer to the "use of assistive technology: increase functional work skills to a more independent level with fading staff support; increase functional communication with peers or staff in a classroom setting; and will demonstrate self-advocacy skills." Short-term objectives for the second goal refer to "use of [MT4] device or AAC to communicate the students need for assistance, as well as the students wants, and interests" and communicate effectively by pairing a greeting with a proper name using her AAC system."The IEP does not identify the MT4 as the only device that would be appropriate to
meet the students needs. The department concludes that the district properly implemented the students IEP regarding use of an assistive technology communication device.
At the February IEP team meeting, it was also determined the students current placement is the students least restrictive environment. The current placement is at a publicly operated facility where only students with disabilities attend. The parent alleges the student has never had the opportunity to meet or interact with regular education peers in the district. The IEP team discussed and documented whether the student should participate in regular class and extracurricular and nonacademic activities. The IEP team determined the student would not be able to participate in regular class or extracurricular or nonacademic activities. The department concludes that the district properly determined the extent to which the student would participate with students who do not have a disability in regular class and extracurricular and other nonacademic activities.
The audiologist could not attend the February 2007 IEP team meeting. The district prepared the document "Agreement on IEP Team Participant Attendance at IEP Meeting (I-2)" and the parent signed the document excusing this IEP team member from the meeting. The option that was checked indicated "this member would not attend during the members area of curriculum or related service will be discussed at the meeting. However, the member will prepare and provide to the [parent] prior to the IEP team meeting written information that can be used in developing or revising [the students] IEP."The parent also alleges the speech and language p
athologist (SLP), who was an IEP team member, left before the end of the meeting. In an interview with the parent, she stated communication as the primary area of concern, but felt the communication information needed was discussed while the SLP was in attendance. According to the district, the SLP asked the parent if there were any concerns that would require the SLP to stay until the end of the meeting. The parent gave verbal permission for the member to leave.
A member of the IEP team is not required to attend an IEP team meeting, in whole or in part, if the parents of the student and the district agree, in writing, that the attendance of the member is not necessary because the members area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting. A member of the IEP team may also be excused from attending, when the meeting involves modification to, or discussion of, the members area of the curriculum or related services, if the parent, in writing, and the district consent to the excusal and the member submits written input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting. In this case, the district did not follow these required excusal provisions. The district should have asked for the parent to sign the excusal form. The department concludes that the district did not ensure the required IEP team members attended team meetings.
Within thirty days, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department for approval that addresses ensuring the required IEP team members attend IEP team meetings. As part of this plan, the district must ensure all staff are aware of the new provisions in IDEA 2004 regarding member excusal.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy