IDEA Complaint Decision 01-015

On March 1, 2001, a complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against 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 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. In investigating this complaint, department staff reviewed relevant education records of the child, information submitted by the complainant, and the district's response to the complaint. Department staff spoke with the district's compliance and monitoring supervisor and the assistant principal.

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ISSUE:

Did the district conduct an IEP team meeting for the student on February 28, 2001, without the required participants?

APPLICABLE STATUTES AND RULES:

Section 115.77, Wisconsin Statutes
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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Section 115.78, Wisconsin Statutes
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:
(a) The parents of the child.
(b) At least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in a regular educational environment.
(c) At least one special education teacher who has extensive and recent training and experience related to the child's known or suspected disability as specified in 115.76 (5) (a) or, where appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child.
(d) A representative of the local educational agency who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, special education, is knowledgeable about the general curriculum and is knowledgeable about and authorized to commit the available resources of the local educational agency.
(e) An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, who may be a team participant under pars. (b) to (d) or (f).
(f) At the discretion of the parent or the local educational agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about the child, including related services personnel as appropriate.
(g) Whenever appropriate, the child.
(2) DUTIES OF TEAM. The individualized education program team shall do all of the following:

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(b) Develop an individualized education program for the child under 115.787.

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34 CFR 300.346 Development, review, and revision of IEP.

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(d) Requirement with respect to regular education teacher. The regular education teacher of a child with a disability, as a member of the IEP team, must, to the extent appropriate, participate in the development, review, and revision of the child's IEP, including assisting in the determination of--
(1) Appropriate positive behavioral interventions and strategies for the child; and
(2) Supplementary aids and services, program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child, consistent with 300.347(a)(3).

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ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIAL INTERPRETATIONS:

34 CFR 300 Appendix A, Question 24

24. What is the role of a regular education teacher in the development, review and revision of the IEP for a child who is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment?

As required by 300.344(a)(2), the IEP team for a child with a disability must include at least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment.

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Thus, while a regular education teacher must be a member of the IEP team if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment, the teacher need not (depending upon the child's needs and the purpose of the specific IEP team meeting) be required to participate in all decisions made as part of the meeting or to be present throughout the entire meeting or attend every meeting.

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FINDINGS OF FACT:

An IEP team meeting was held on February 28, 2001, for the purpose of reviewing and revising the student's IEP. The following IEP team participants attended the meeting: the student, the student's mother, the assistant principal serving as the local education agency (LEA) representative, the special education teacher, the regular education teacher, the school social worker, the school psychologist, the school principal, the special education supervisor, the parent's advocate, and the student's case manager from a social services agency.

The IEP team meeting began at 8:45 a.m. and lasted approximately four hours. The complainant alleges that all required IEP team participants, particularly the regular education teacher, were not present for all IEP team discussion and determinations, especially those decisions made after 12:00 p.m. The special education supervisor, not a required IEP team participant, arrived late to the meeting. The school principal left the IEP team meeting at 12:00 p.m. The school principal was not serving as the LEA representative at the meeting and was not a required IEP team participant.

The regular education teacher, a required IEP team participant, left the meeting at 10:30 a.m. The LEA representative informed the department that the regular education teacher was present for the IEP team discussions related to the student's program in regular education classes, including positive behavior strategies and interventions, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications.

CONCLUSION:

An LEA must appoint an IEP team to develop, review and revise, if needed, a child's IEP. 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 regular education teacher must, to the extent appropriate, participate in the development, review, and revision of a child's IEP. The regular education teacher need not (depending on the child's needs and purpose of the IEP team meeting) participate in all decisions made at an IEP team meeting or be present throughout an entire meeting or attend every meeting.

Here, all required IEP team participants attended the February 28, 2001 IEP team meeting. The regular education teacher participated in the IEP team meeting and the review and revision of the student's IEP to the extent appropriate, consistent with legal requirements.

This concludes our investigation of this complaint, and we are closing this complaint investigation. 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
4/18/01

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