IDEA Complaint Decision 12-028

On May 22, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which relate to the 2011-12 school year, are whether the district:

Properly developed an individualized education program (IEP) for a student with a disability

The complaint primarily focuses on issues related to the student’s disability related needs and services in the area of math. IEP team meetings were held on June 3, 2011, February 28, 2012 (continued on March 9, 2012), and June 6, 2012.

An IEP is a written statement for a student with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised during an IEP team meeting. Each student’s IEP must include a statement of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the disability affects the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum; measurable annual goals designed to meet the student’s disability related needs to enable the student to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; a description of how progress toward meeting annual goals will be measured; and when periodic reports on the progress will be provided to the parent. Each student’s IEP must also include a statement of the special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports for school staff based on each student’s unique needs and an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the student will not participate with nondisabled peers in the regular class and other school activities.

The IEP in effect at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year was developed on June 3, 2011, following an initial evaluation. The statement of present level of academic achievement and functional performance indicated only that the student “struggles with math.” The IEP did not include any special education or supplementary aids and services specific to math. The IEP was not properly developed because it did not include information about the student’s present level of math achievement and how the student’s disability affected the student’s involvement in the general education math curriculum, and did not specify special education services needed to address the student’s identified math goal and needs.

The IEP team met on February 28, and March 9, 2012, to review and revise the student’s IEP to address parental concerns about the student’s math needs, services, and placement. The IEP developed on March 9, 2012, documented the parent’s concerns. The statement of the student’s present level of math achievement was revised to provide specific information about the student’s performance. However, the district did not properly develop an IEP on February 28, and March 9, 2012 because the IEP did not include a measurable annual math goal. A statement of supplementary aids and services indicated the student would receive various assignment modifications in math two to three times per week for up to 90 minutes. This does not describe a clear commitment of resources.

The IEP team met again on June 6, 2012, to address continuing parental concerns, review and revise the student’s IEP for the upcoming school year, and discuss ESY and summer compensatory services. The IEP developed on June 6, included a properly developed statement of the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance in math, a measurable annual math goal, how progress would be measured and reported, and a clear statement that the student would receive supplementary math instruction in a resource classroom. The IEP included a statement of special education services that specified the student would receive 45 minutes of specially designed math instruction during period 1 of the block schedule. The IEP included supplementary aids and services directly related to math. However, the IEP did not specify how much time or the conditions under which these would be provided. The district did not properly develop the student’s IEP on June 6, 2012, because the statements of supplementary aids and services related to math did not include the specificity required to make the agency’s commitment of resources clear to parents and staff.

Properly changed the student’s placement
Properly responded to parent requests for IEP team meetings

The IEP in effect at the start of the 2011-12 school year indicated the student would be removed from the regular education setting for math. The student began the 2011-12 school year receiving math instruction in a special education classroom. After the first week of school, the student’s schedule was changed to a general education team-taught math class because staff believed the general education class was more appropriate for the student. An IEP team meeting was not held to make the change in placement. The parent disagreed with the change and requested an IEP meeting to discuss the placement multiple times beginning September 13, 2011. Several informal meetings and conversations that were not considered IEP meetings were held with school personnel during the fall of 2011, and changes were made to the student’s math instruction and grading within the general education class. However, a timely IEP team meeting was not held and the district did not properly respond to the parent’s requests.

Removing the student from the special education environment to a regular education environment constituted a change in placement. The district acknowledges it did not properly respond to the parent’s requests for IEP team meetings to address the student’s placement and improperly changed the student’s math placement from a special education to general education classroom without holding an IEP team meeting. The district considered and decided compensatory services were needed as a result of the failure to appropriately address the student’s math placement.

Included required participants in IEP team meetings

A district must ensure the IEP team for each student with a disability includes at least one regular education teacher of the student, if the student is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment. A required IEP team member may be excused from attending an IEP team meeting, in whole or in part, when the meeting involves modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum if the parent and district agree in writing, and the member submits written input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting. The complainant asserts a regular education teacher did not participate in every IEP team meeting when the student’s general education needs and programming were discussed.

A regular education teacher was invited but did not attend the June 3, 2011, IEP team meeting to develop the student’s annual IEP for the 2011-12 school year. There is no record the parent agreed to excuse the regular education teacher, or of written input submitted before the meeting. The student’s regular education math teacher was invited to the IEP team meetings held on February 28, and March 9, 2012, but did not attend either meeting. A main focus of discussion during these meetings was the student’s math needs and program. The district did not believe an excusal or written input from the math teacher was necessary because the student’s special education teacher, who co-taught in the student’s math class, was in attendance, held a general education license, and was familiar with the general education math curriculum. This teacher was listed on the invitation as a special education teacher and was assigned 100 percent as a special education teacher and, as such, could not serve on the IEP team in the role of a general education teacher. The student’s general education math teacher was invited and attended the June 6, 2012 meeting. The district did not properly include a general education teacher during the IEP team meetings held on June 3, 2011, February 28, 2012, and March 9, 2012.

Ensured staff responsible for implementing the IEP were informed of their specific responsibilities

The complainant asserts the student’s regular education and special education math teachers were not properly informed of the student’s needs and their responsibilities for implementing required special education services related to math. The district has an appropriate process in place to ensure staff responsible for implementing student’s IEPs have access to IEPs and are informed of their specific responsibilities. The district followed this process with the student. At the start of the school year, the student’s special education case manager provided the teachers with a written summary of the student’s needs and IEP services taken directly from the student’s IEP, and the IEP was made available to staff. The district properly informed staff of their specific responsibilities.

Properly determined the student’s extended school year (ESY) services

ESY services are special education and related services required by a student’s IEP provided beyond the limits of the school term. A school district is required to provide ESY services when a student requires such services to receive a free appropriate public education. In this case, there was some confusion about the terms ESY and compensatory services. The LEA agreed to provide compensatory services over the summer to address the district’s failure to properly develop and implement the student’s math placement earlier in the school year. The IEP developed on June 6, 2012, properly documented the IEP team’s decision to provide compensatory math services during the summer. This IEP also properly documented the IEP team’s consideration and decision that the student did not require ESY services.

Prior to the start of the 2012-13 school year, the district will revise the student’s IEP to ensure the amount and frequency of special education and supplementary aids and services are described with the required specificity to be clear to all those involved in developing and implementing the IEP. The district will provide to DPI a copy of the revised IEP by September 15, 2012.

In addition, within 30 days of this decision, the district must submit to the department, a corrective action plan at the high school level to ensure:

  • Placement changes are made by an IEP team
  • IEP team meetings include all required participants; any excusals of required participants are properly documented; and when excused, required participants submit written input prior to meetings as required

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint. You may contact Paula Volpiansky, Special Education Team, at (608) 267-3725 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 7/23/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

Dec/pfv

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