IDEA Complaint Decision 08-004

On January 10, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from foster parents XXXXX against the School District of Jefferson. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are identified and addressed below.

  • Did the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, properly respond to the foster parents’ requests for a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) of their foster child and request to change the foster child’s special education placement?

Parents have the responsibility to make educational decisions on behalf of their children. Foster parents are not authorized by special education law to make educational decisions on behalf of their foster children unless the right and the responsibility of the biological parents to make educational decisions concerning a child have been extinguished by termination of parental rights, by transfer of guardianship or legal custody, or by other court order.

The student’s biological mother has not had her rights to make educational decisions concerning the student extinguished or transferred. The student’s biological mother participated in the development of the student’s 2007-2008 individualized education program (IEP) by attending the IEP meeting. The student’s biological parent did not request a FBA or a change in the student’s special education placement. The district was not required to respond to requests for a FBA or change in special education placement made by the student’s foster parents.

  • Did the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, ensure the student’s special education teacher properly supervised the student’s aide and the aide did not perform professional teaching responsibilities?

A district must ensure the student’s program complies with state requirements including the requirement that professional teaching responsibilities be carried out by or directly supervised by, a special education teacher who is licensed by the department. Direct supervision means regular, continuing interaction between the special education teacher and teacher aide which includes time to evaluate the services provided. There must be sufficient contact between the special education teacher and the teacher aide, and between the teacher and the student, to enable the teacher to diagnose educational needs, prescribe teaching and learning procedures, and evaluate the effects of teaching.

The student’s IEP requires the student be accompanied by an adult at all times during the school day. The aide assigned to the student holds a Wisconsin special education program aide license. The aide and the special education teacher report the aide and the student are in the same room with the student’s special education teacher, except when the student is attending art, music, or physical education. When the student is in the special education room, the aide works in cooperation with the special education teacher according to weekly lesson plans developed by the special education teacher. When the student is not in the special education room, the aide’s sole responsibility is to monitor the behavior of the student in accordance with the behavior intervention plan contained in the student’s IEP. The aide makes regular reports of the student’s behavior outside the special education classroom to the special education teacher. The foster parents agree substantially with the description of the teacher/aide/student relationship provided by the district for the 2007-2008 school year. In response to the foster parents’ concerns that the aide’s response to the student’s behavior was counterproductive, the district arranged for the aide to attend a non-violent crisis intervention training sponsored by CESA 3 in February 2008. The district ensured that the special education teacher properly supervised the student’s aide and the aide did not perform professional teaching responsibilities.

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

//signed CST 3/7/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/ps

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