IDEA Complaint Decision 13-001

On January 4, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2012-13 school year, properly implemented the child’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the ability to adjust the schedule dependent upon the student’s needs.

In determining the educational placement of a child with a disability, each district must ensure an IEP team, which includes the parent, makes the placement decision based on the child’s IEP. The placement must conform with the least restrictive environment (LRE) provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In determining the LRE, consideration is given to any potential harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services the child needs, and the child is educated to the maximum extent appropriate with children who are not disabled.

IEP team meetings were held on April 20, April 30, and May 10, 2012. The child had been receiving early childhood special education and related services at home for the 2011-12 school year. The IEP team meetings were held to discuss transitioning the student to school-based services for the 2012-13 school year.

Placement was determined on May 10, 2012. In determining placement, services at home were considered and rejected as the child would benefit from instruction with typically developing peers. Another option considered was full-time 5-year-old kindergarten (5K) at the child’s home school. This option was rejected as the child had limited endurance which would not allow full-day participation. The IEP documents the team’s decision that beginning September 4, 2012, the child would attend 4-year-old kindergarten (4K) on a reduced school day schedule for three, two-hour days based upon the child’s limited endurance, with the goal of increasing attendance to the full 4K schedule of four, three hour days. The IEP did not specify if the student would attend the morning or afternoon session as class assignment was generally determined at the building level.

According to the complaint, the parent alleges the decision during the IEP team meetings in the spring of 2012 included allowing the parent flexibility in determining whether the reduced school day would occur in the morning or afternoon. There was language in the IEP to reflect the placement discussion and decision, but there was nothing written in the IEP that stated the parent could determine whether the child would attend school in the morning or afternoon and district staff did not recall making such decision. When registering the student in August, the parent found out the student was assigned to attend the afternoon session. The parent did not agree with this schedule and believed the student was to attend the morning session.

On September 10, 2012, another IEP team meeting was held to address the parent’s concerns regarding scheduling. The IEP team determined since the child was five years old, the child would attend 5K in the morning on the reduced schedule determined by the IEP team in May 2012. The IEP was revised to reflect this decision. The district, during the 2012-13 school year, properly implemented the IEP regarding adjusting the child’s schedule based on the student’s needs.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. You may contact Teresa Goodier, Special Education Team, at teresa.goodier@dpi.wi.gov or (608) 267-2947 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 3/4/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

Dec/tag

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