IDEA Complaint Decision 99-056

On October 5, 1999 (letter dated October 3, 1999), a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This complaint alleges a violation of special education law regarding the implementation of programs for children with disabilities.

Pursuant to 34 CFR 300.660-662 of the regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and ss. 15.762(3)(g) and 115.90(1), Wis. Stats., the Department of Public Instruction investigated this complaint. In investigating a complaint, the department reviews a district's compliance with state and federal requirements. During this investigation, department staff reviewed written statements provided by the complainant and the district, as well as relevant educational records. In addition, department staff interviewed the complainant parent, the regular education teacher and the special education teacher by telephone.

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ISSUE #1:

Did the district fail to implement a provision of the child's current IEP related to biweekly communication with the parent?

ISSUE #2:

Did the district fail to include proper statements in the child's current IEP regarding the amount, frequency and location of special education services?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

Wisconsin Statutes, Section 115.76
Definitions.

In this subchapter:

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(7) "Free appropriate public education" means special education and related services that are provided at public expense and under public supervision and direction, meet the standards of the department, include an appropriate preschool, elementary or secondary school education and are provided in conformity with an individualized education program.

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Wisconsin Statutes, Section 115.77
Local educational agency duties.

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(1m) A local educational agency shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the division that it does all of the following:

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(b) Makes available a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities as required by this subchapter and applicable state and federal law.

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Wisconsin Statutes, Section 115.787
Individualized education programs.

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(2) REQUIRED COMPONENTS. An individualized education program shall include all of the following:

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(b) A statement of measurable annual goals for the child, including benchmarks or short-term objectives, related to meeting the child's needs that result from the child's disability to enable the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum, and to meeting each of the child's other educational needs that result from the child's disability.
(c) A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child, and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child * * *.

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(f) The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications described in par. (c) and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of those services and modifications

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(h) A statement of all of the following:

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2. How the child's parents will be regularly informed, at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children's progress, of their child's progress toward the annual goals and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the effective period of the individualized education program.

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34 CFR 300.342 When IEPs must be in effect.

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(b) Implementation of IEPs. Each public agency shall ensure that--

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(2) The child's IEP is accessible to each regular education teacher, special education teacher, related service provider, and other service provider who is responsible for its implementation; and
(3) Each teacher and provider described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section is informed of--
(i) His or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the child's IEP; and
(ii) The specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided for the child in accordance with the IEP.

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ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIAL INTERPRETATIONS:

34 CFR Part 300, Appendix A, Questions 31 and 35

31. Must the public agency ensure that all services specified in a child's IEP are provided?

Yes. The public agency must ensure that all services set forth in the child's IEP are provided, consistent with the child's needs as identified in the IEP.

35. Must the IEP specify the amount of services to be provided?

The amount of services to be provided must be stated in the IEP so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team members.

FINDINGS OF FACT:

The child whose education is the subject of this investigation resides in the Milwaukee Public Schools district and receives special education and related services at a Milwaukee Public School. On July 29, 1999, the district determined that he met the criteria for a learning disability impairment and an other health impairment and, by reason of these impairments, needs special education and related services.

The district also developed an IEP for the child at the July 29, 1999, IEP team meeting. The IEP specified the frequency of special education and supplementary aids and services to be provided; it did not specify the amount (this IEP did not require the district to provide related services or program modifications or supports).

An IEP team revised the child's IEP on September 1, 1999. The IEP required the district to provide special education, related services, supplementary aids and services and program modifications or supports; the IEP specified the frequency of each of these services. The IEP did not specify the amount of services to be provided in the categories of special education and supplementary aids and services.

One of the child's annual goals was to develop social skills. The IEP developed on September 1, 1999, added "bi-weekly notes home" as a procedure for informing the parent of the student's progress toward this goal. At the meeting, team members discussed who should be responsible for reporting on the student's social skills progress. Although the participants believed the regular education teacher was a logical choice because the child participated full-time in the regular education setting, they did not specify in the IEP that he was responsible for sending bi-weekly notes home. The regular education teacher did not attend the IEP team meeting on September 1, 1999. The district did not inform the regular education teacher of a responsibility to send bi-weekly notes home and did not assign this responsibility to any staff person.

The district convened an IEP team meeting on October 20, 1999, to revise the child's IEP. The IEP required the district to continue the provision of special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports. The revised IEP did not specify the amount of supplementary aids and services to be provided.

The regular education teacher attended the IEP team meeting on October 20, 1999; the team agreed that the regular education teacher would call the parent to inform her of the child's social skills progress. While the revised IEP continued to require bi-weekly notes home on the child's progress toward his goal of developing social skills, the team members did not discuss it at the October 20, 1999, meeting. The district did not inform the regular education teacher of a responsibility under the IEP to send bi-weekly notes home. The responsibility was not assigned to any other staff person.

Beginning sometime in October, 1999, the regular education teacher called the mother every weekend to discuss the child's progress toward his goal of developing social skills, among other things. Neither the regular education teacher nor any other staff sent bi-weekly notes home to the mother to report on the child's social skills.

CONCLUSION:

A district must provide each child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child in part by providing special education and related services in conformity with a proper IEP. The IEP must specify special education and related services to meet the child's needs, including the amount of each of the services. Regular education teachers must have knowledge of and implement relevant portions of a child's IEP. The statement of the amount of services must be sufficiently specific to reflect the commitment of the district's resources to each service.

After September 1, 1999, the IEP required the district to send bi-weekly notes home with regard to the child's progress toward his social skills goals. The district did not inform the regular education teacher or any other staff of the specific responsibility relating to this provision of the IEP. The district did not assign this responsibility to any other staff. Bi-weekly reports were not sent home. There is a violation in this regard.

The child's IEP for the 1999-2000 school year specified that he would receive special education services. Neither the original nor the September 1, 1999, revised IEP specified the amount of services the district would provide. While the IEP as revised on October 20, 1999, specifies the amount of special education he would receive, it does not specify the amount of related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports. There is a violation with regard to issue #2.

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DIRECTIVE:

The Milwaukee Public Schools shall, within 30 days of receipt of this report, submit to the department a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that:

  1. the district informs regular education teachers, special education teachers, related service providers, and other service providers who are responsible for the implementation of IEPs of their specific responsibilities (issue #1); and
  2. on the IEP of this child and the other children with disabilities, the district specifies the frequency, amount, and duration of the following: special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports (issue #2).

The CAP shall include the activities the district will undertake to implement the directives, the personnel responsible for each activity, the date by which each activity will be completed, and the type of documentation that will be submitted to the department as evidence of completion of each activity. If a CAP requires the district to develop one or more products, the district may submit the product(s) as part of the corrective action plan. The CAP will be reviewed and the district will be informed if any revisions are required. The district will implement the CAP after it has been approved by the department.

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This concludes our investigation of this complaint. This letter is not intended, and should not be construed, to cover any other issues regarding compliance with the IDEA or Chapter 115, Wisconsin Statutes, which may exist and which are not specifically discussed herein. Under the Wisconsin public records law, ss. 19.31-19.39, Wisconsin Statutes, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request.

signed JSP
3/2/00
________________________________________
Juanita S. Pawlisch, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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