IDEA Complaint Decision 11-032

On August 25, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Brodhead School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in May 2011, properly developed the student’s individualized education program (IEP).

On May 26, 2011, an IEP team meeting was held for the purpose of annual IEP development and determination of placement. The IEP team included the parent, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, and the local educational agency (LEA) representative. In addition, it included a child advocate, a speech and language pathologist, and an additional regular and special education teacher. The IEP developed included two annual goals to increase overall organization of the student’s language skills and to increase independent accuracy of completion of assignments and tests. Special education services included receptive/expressive language intervention once per week for 30 minutes in the general education classroom and 30 minutes once per week in the special education resource room. Related services included special education support for academics, organization, redirection, and re-teaching in teamed math and English classes and supported social studies class for three 52 minute class periods per day and daily in the resource room study hall.

During the May 2011 IEP team meeting, the district stated the need for the academic support services provided during the daily resource room study halls was necessary for the student to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The mother expressed the need for the student’s inclusion in both show choir and chorus for the student’s emotional well-being. There was a conflict in the school schedule for the 2011-2012 school year between the study halls and show choir and chorus. If the special education services in the resource room study hall were provided daily, the schedule would not allow the student to participate in show choir and chorus.

The IEP team meeting serves as a vehicle between parents and school personnel and enables them, as equal participants, to make joint, informed decisions regarding services needed to support the involvement and participation in the general education curriculum in the general education environment and achieve agreed-upon goals. The IEP team should work toward consensus, but the district has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the IEP includes the services the student needs in order to receive FAPE.

District staff believed consensus had been reached during the May 2011 IEP team meeting to provide the student with special education support for academics daily in the resource room study hall. Inclusion of these special education and related services created a schedule conflict so the student could not participate in choir and chorus during the 2011-2012 school year. The mother received a copy of the IEP in June of 2011.

In a letter dated August 25, 2011, following a conversation with the principal on August 17, 2011, the parent expressed her concerns the student’s schedule did not include chorus and show choir. The parent expressed her belief that consensus had not been reached as to the need for daily resource room study halls at the May 2011 IEP team meeting. She requested the student be included in both chorus and show choir.

Following the August 17, 2011, meeting between the parent and the principal, the district contacted the parent by phone and left a message. This was followed by providing the parent with the Notice of Response to an Activity Requested by a Parent. On this form, the district provided an explanation restating the team’s determination the student’s needs supported daily inclusion in the resource room study hall in order for the student to receive FAPE. The district believed consensus had been reached during the May 2011 IEP team meeting. The district offered to reconvene the IEP team to develop benchmarks to assess the student’s progress toward her IEP goals, so the student could begin participating in both chorus and show choir as her skills progressed over time. The district properly developed the student’s IEP.

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

//signed CST/SJP 10/7/2011
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