IDEA Complaint Decision 00-069

On December 19, 2000, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Appleton Area School District. This is the department¿s decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether, during the 2000-2001 school year, the district:

  • failed to respond in a timely manner to the complainants¿ requests for a meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team for their child;
  • failed, in developing the child¿s IEP, to consider the complainants¿ concerns for enhancing the education of their child;
  • failed, following parent request, to provide the parents with proper written notice of the district¿s refusal to revise the child¿s IEP goals and program modifications and supports, and to administer a particular assessment; and
  • failed to inform the complainants regularly of the extent to which their child¿s progress toward his annual goals is sufficient to enable him to achieve the goals by the end of the school year.

The complainants maintain that during the Fall of 2000 they made several oral requests for IEP team meetings for their child, but the district did not respond by holding meetings. District staff interviewed regarding these requests generally remembered conversations with the parents, but did not understand the parents to be requesting IEP team meetings. In one instance a district staff person stated she did not receive a call from the parent on the day the parent maintains she called the individual. On October 16, 2000, the district received the parent¿s written request for an IEP team meeting, and the meeting was conducted on October 30, 2000. At the end of the meeting, the parents indicated they would contact the district to provide dates when they could attend a continuation of the meeting, which took place on November 20 with the parents in attendance. Following this meeting the parents maintain that they again made calls to district staff asking for IEP team meetings. Several staff attempted to contact the parents about their requests, including calls to suggest meeting dates. On December 12 the parents sent a letter to a student services coordinator requesting a meeting, which was set for January 2, 2001, and then cancelled by the parents through a fax to the principal on the day of the meeting. Parents may request an IEP team meeting at any time. A school district should grant any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review and, if necessary, revise a child¿s IEP. If the district denies the parent¿s request for an IEP team meeting, the district must provide the parent with a notice of refusal. In this situation, the district did not refuse the parents¿ requests for IEP team meetings and arranged timely meetings following the parents¿ requests.

The parents contend that the district failed to consider a list of concerns for enhancing their child¿s education which they presented during the October and November IEP team meetings. The parents maintain that, as a result, the district failed to provide them with proper written notice of the district¿s refusal to revise their son¿s IEP goals and program modifications and supports. The parents placed a list of concerns on the table as the October 30 IEP team meeting was adjourning. During the IEP team meeting, the parents and advocate often referred to the contents of this document; however, the team did not reach consensus on many of the issues. The team reached consensus on increasing the child¿s reading time, which was reflected in his IEP. Increasing the child¿s reading time was on the list of parental concerns. Although consensus was not reached on other topics raised at the IEP team meeting, another meeting was anticipated and did take place on November 20.

The November 20 IEP team meeting included discussion of many of the parents¿ concerns regarding their child¿s IEP, including several options for communication between parents and district to address concerns regarding homework communication and assignments. There was consensus to have the teacher of the learning disabled and the child discuss any homework to see if this would assist him with completion of the homework. There was no refusal to list homework modifications on the supplemental aids and services and other supports section of the IEP. At the conclusion of the IEP team meeting, the team understood that the parents were in agreement with this plan and that the discussion of the parents¿ concerns would continue during another meeting of the team. In developing each child¿s IEP, the IEP team must consider the concerns of the child¿s parents for enhancing the education of their child. A child¿s parents must be provided prior written notice if the local educational agency refuses to change the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child. The parents concerns were considered and the team did not refuse to revise the child¿s IEP.

On October 23, 2000, the district sent the parents a notice of reevaluation. The IEP team, including the parents, reviewed existing data related to the child. The district sent a notice to the parent that the team determined that additional tests and other evaluation materials were needed to determine whether the child continued to be a child with a disability and requested consent to conduct additional specified tests. In response, the parents requested the administration of other specific tests, and that WYNN, a reading software program, be used as the assistive technology assessment instrument. On November 9 and 30, the district sent the parents revised notices to reevaluate, which also did not include the WYNN reading software program. The parents continued their refusal to consent to additional tests until the WYNN reading software program was included as a test instrument. On December 11, 2000, the district sent the parents a fourth notice to reevaluate and consent to conduct additional tests which included assistive technology evaluation materials. The notice stated that WYNN is not an assessment instrument, but that it would be considered as part of the assistive technology assessment. On December 13, 2000, the district requested mediation to try to resolve the impasse over the parents¿ refusal to give consent for the reevaluation. The parents rejected mediation and on December 20 the district initiated a due process hearing to resolve the consent dispute. On December 21 the district sent the parents a fifth notice to reevaluate which included assistive technology evaluation assessments without including the WYNN program. On January 12, 2001, the parents signed the form giving the district permission to administer tests and other evaluation materials as part of the child¿s reevaluation. The district repeatedly endeavored to address the parents concerns regarding the reevaluation and did provide them with written notice of its refusal to administer a particular test. Further, the parents permitted the district to administer the tests it proposed for the child¿s reevaluation.

In their letter of complaint, the parents maintain the district did not report to them whether their child was progressing enough to meet his goals. The child¿s IEP includes procedures for informing the parents 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 year. The district provides progress reports for middle school students six times during the school year. As of the date when this complaint was filed, the district provided progress reports to the parents of all students in October and December. An October 18 progress report to the complainants does not include the child¿s goals and does not indicate the extent to which the child¿s progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the year. However, on October 30 the district held an IEP team meeting, attended by the parents, during which the child¿s annual goals were discussed. The child¿s October 30 IEP reports his progress as of October 18 on each annual goal and whether the child¿s progress was sufficient to achieve the annual goals by the end of the school year. The December 8, 2000, report to the parents indicates whether progress toward achieving the annual goals was sufficient, or not sufficient, to reach goal by the end of the year. The district reported to the parents, at least as often as it reported to parents of students who do not have disabilities, whether their child¿s progress toward meeting the annual goals was sufficient to enable the child to meet the goals by the end of the year.

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

//signed 7/10/01
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jrm

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