IDEA Complaint Decision 00-054

On September 11, 2000 (letter dated September 6, 2000), a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against the Appleton Area School District. 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 115.762(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 relevant education records of the child and materials submitted by the district in response to the complaint. Department staff spoke with the assistant superintendent for student services.

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ISSUE:

Did the district hold an IEP team meeting for the complainant's child without all required IEP team participants in attendance?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

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 115.78
Individualized education program team; timeline.

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(lm) APPOINTMENT OF TEAM. The local educational agency shall appoint an individualized education program team for each child referred to it under 115.777. Each team shall consist of all of the following:

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(b) At least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in a regular educational environment.

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(2) DUTIES OF TEAM. The individualized education program team shall do all of the following:
(a) Evaluate the child under 115.782 to determine the child's eligibility or continued eligibility for special education and related services and the educational needs of the child.

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FINDINGS OF FACT:

During the 1999-2000 school year, the complainant's child received special education services from the district for an orthopedic impairment. On May 15, 2000, the complainant requested that the district reevaluate her child for a suspected speech and language disability.

On June 6, 2000, the district sent written notice to the complainant of the referral for an evaluation. The notice stated that the IEP team would include the parent, the speech/language pathologist, and the child's regular education teacher.

An IEP team meeting was held on July 18, 2000, for the purpose of evaluation and determination of eligibility for speech and language services. The complainant and the speech/language pathologist attended the entire meeting, and the student services coordinator attended part of the meeting. A regular education teacher did not attend the July 18 IEP team meeting.

In its response to the complaint, the district acknowledged that a regular education teacher should have attended the IEP team meeting and proposed corrective actions. The district has scheduled an IEP team meeting, with all required participants, to review the child's evaluation and eligibility determination for speech and language. This fall, the district will hold training sessions with special education staff to review the IEP team process and will emphasize the role of the regular education teacher as an IEP team participant. In addition, the district will address the issue of IEP team participation in the November issue of its special education newsletter to all staff.

CONCLUSION:

An LEA must appoint an IEP team for each child referred for special education services. Each IEP team must include, among others, at least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in a regular education environment.

The district acknowledged that it erred when it failed to ensure that a regular education teacher participated in the July 18, 2000, IEP team meeting. In its response to the department, the district proposed child-specific and district-wide corrective actions to address the violation.

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DIRECTIVE:

The department approves the corrective actions proposed by the Appleton Area School District, as described herein, and directs the district to implement those corrective actions and provide documentation to the department upon completion of the activities.

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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, 19.31-19.39, Wisconsin Statutes, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request.

signed MJT
10/24/00
__________________________________________
Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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