IDEA Complaint Decision 10-069

On October 25 and November 10, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received complaints under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Greenfield on behalf of two students, “Student A” and “Student B.” This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2010-2011 school year, properly notified the parent of individualized education program (IEP) team meetings, properly responded to a parent’s request for an IEP team meeting, and properly responded to a parent request to add occupational therapy (OT) and other services to the students’ IEPs.

The students’ mother maintains IEP team meetings were held for both students on September 1, 2010, to revise the students’ IEP, and she was not invited. The parent asserts OT, preferential seating, and text-to-speech services were removed from Student A’s IEP, and Student B’s placement was changed and a one-to-one aide was removed without notifying her. The parent indicates when she found out about the changes, she made multiple requests to hold IEP team meetings to add these services back and address other concerns, but a meeting was not timely held.

On August 25, 2010, the students’ father informed the district the students had moved into the district and would be enrolling in school. The father and local educational agency (LEA) representative reviewed the students’ IEPs. The LEA representative and the parent agreed to make minor revisions to the IEP without a meeting so the IEP could be implemented in the student’s new school without interruption. The parents were provided with a written notice of the IEP revisions made without a meeting and a copy of the updated transfer IEP.

A parent and LEA can agree to make changes to an IEP, except for placement changes, without a meeting. In addition, an IEP team meeting is not required when a student transfers to a new district and the receiving district determines the student’s IEP can be implemented as written in the school the student would otherwise attend if not disabled. There is no evidence an IEP team meeting was held on September 1, 2010. No meeting was required to adopt and make minor revisions to Student A’s IEP upon transfer.

Student A’s IEP, in effect upon transfer, did not include OT services. On February 10, 2010, the IEP team from the student’s previous district determined the student no longer needed direct OT services. The student’s IEP was revised to remove OT services. Consultation by an occupational therapist was added to the IEP for a 15-week assistive technology trial period. The student’s current district employs an assistive technology specialist and revised the student’s IEP to provide assistive technology consultation from this specialist upon transfer. An IEP team meeting was not required to make this change. Other services, including preferential seating and text-to-speech, were not changed and continued to be included in Student A’s IEP.

On September 2, during a telephone conversation, the parent requested the district add OT services to Student A’s IEP and consider changing the student’s placement. An evaluation is required before an IEP team may consider adding OT to a student’s IEP. An IEP team meeting must be held to conduct the evaluation with 60 days of receiving parental consent for additional testing or notifying the parent no additional testing is needed.

In response to the parent’s request, the LEA initiated a reevaluation on September 2, 2010. Parental consent was received on September 27. On October 27, the IEP team met to conduct the reevaluation and discuss the parent’s requests. Both parents were invited to and participated in the meeting. A representative from the placement the parent wanted considered was invited to the meeting, but cancelled the day of the meeting. The IEP team determined the student was not eligible for OT and this service was not added to the student’s IEP. The parent requested another IEP team meeting be held with staff from an out-of-district program within two weeks to discuss changing Student A’s placement. The IEP team reconvened on November 8, 2010. A representative from the alternate placement attended the meeting and provided input. The IEP team determined the district’s program was appropriate and no change in placement was made. The parent’s concerns and IEP team’s decision were documented, and a copy of the evaluation report and updated IEP was provided to the parents.

With respect to Student B, the LEA determined an IEP team meeting was needed upon transfer, to discuss the student’s placement. The parents were contacted by phone to schedule the meeting, and a meeting notice was mailed to the parents. The student’s father attended the IEP team meeting held on September 2, 2010. At the request of the student’s mother, a relative attended on her behalf. The relative was in phone communication with this parent during the meeting. With parental permission, representatives from non-district placements under consideration and an outside agency social worker were invited to and attended the meeting. The IEP team determined the student required placement in one of the non-district schools. The student’s IEP and placement were revised. The student’s previous IEP did not specify a one-to-one aide and no aide was specified in the revised IEP. The student’s mother disagreed with the placement. This disagreement was documented on the IEP along with the parent’s concerns, other options considered by the district, and the reasons for the IEP team decision.

On October 1, the IEP team met to conduct a three-year reevaluation and review and revise the student’s IEP. Both parents were invited and attended the meeting. The parent made a number of requests regarding the evaluation and the student’s IEP services, including requesting a one-to-one aide when the student returns to the public school, the use of a number of specific calming techniques, and making a communication tool such as text-to-speech available. The IEP team appropriately documented the parent’s concerns and incorporated the parent’s requests into the student’s IEP.

A district must take steps to ensure one or both of the parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. A parent may request an IEP meeting at any time. A district should respond to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review the student’s IEP. In this case, the district properly notified the parent of IEP team meetings and afforded the parent an opportunity to meaningfully participate in all meetings, timely responded to parental requests for IEP team meetings, and properly responded to the parent’s request to add OT and other services to the students’ IEPs.

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

//signed CST/SJP 12/14/2010
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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