On May 9, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Salem Joint 2 School District. The issues in this investigation are whether the district failed to consider the students need for supplemental aids and services to be provided to enable the child to progress in the general environment and whether the district implemented provisions added to the childs individualized education program (IEP) during the year requiring supplementary aids and services. This is the departments decision for that complaint.
The complainants child received special education services for math and Section 504 accommodations for all other classes while in grades four and five. The complainant maintains that the Section 504 accommodations were not integrated, as supplemental aides and services, within the childs IEP, at the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year. An IEP developed for the child during an IEP team meeting held September 29, 2000, transferred the supplementary aides and services, which included program modifications in regular education classes, from the students Section 504 plan to the students IEP. However, the complainant alleges many of these were not followed, specifically: marking acceptable work, not mistakes; adjusting long-term assignments; weekly evaluation updates provided to parents; checking assignment log; providing cross-age tutoring; focusing on childs strengths; and providing a key lock in place of a combination lock.
Based on material submitted by the district, including portions of the childs records, telephone conversations and written responses from the director of special education, two of the childs teachers, the building principal, and the school nurse, and on discussions with the complainant, the department determines that the district did include supplementary aids and services in the childs IEP. Prior to the September 29, 2000, IEP team meeting, modifications were provided through a Section 504 plan.
IEP team meetings held in November, December, January, March, and June, addressed, among other things, the issue of supplementary aides and services. An "Addendum to Modifications Checklist" was added to the students IEP on April 27, 2001. The students June 6, 2001, IEP includes 150 minutes per week of specially designed assistance in tutorial/study hall, as a special education service, and 250 minutes per week of academic support in language class, as a supplementary aide and service. The IEP also includes a program modification checklist that covers the following: eight assignment modifications; six testing accommodations; seven organization accommodations; two assessment/evaluation/ grading modifications; four classroom accommodations; and four other program modifications.
In response to the complainants allegation that supplementary aids and services in the childs September 29, 2000, IEP, were not provided, the district provided detailed accounts showing that program modifications were provided to the complainants child during the 2000-2001 school year. While modifications were provided, many were not given enough time to see if they were appropriate and effective before the complainant requested changes. Specific modifications and the districts response are as follows:
marking acceptable work, not mistakes - the number of acceptable items on an assignment or test was marked at the top of the page, although one time a teacher did mark a letter grade on a test and was reminded not to do so;
adjust long-term assignments - language papers were broken down into sections, assigning student one paragraph at a time;
weekly evaluation updates provided to parents - the students parent was in school almost daily to check with regular education teachers on assignments, so some weekly updates were not sent home. A "Friday" folder was sent home each week by regular education teachers;
checking assignment log - this was done, although the student often refused to write in the assignment notebook, so the special education teacher began writing assignments in her log per parent request at a March 5, 2001, IEP team meeting. A clarification list of modifications, including a checklist for homework, was discussed at an informal meeting on April 2, 2001. In a letter dated April 8, 2001, the complainant requested the regular education teacher check the assignment notebook. Complainant then requested her child have no contact with the special education teacher.
provide cross-age tutoring - added to the March 5, 2001, IEP as a recommendation to try if the volunteer center could find a high school student. No high school student could be found to provide tutoring;
focusing on childs strengths, not weaknesses - has been done all year. The student is given positive reinforcement and encouraged in areas of strengths, such as reading;
providing a key lock in place of a combination lock on locker - did not have to be done, as the student learned how to open locker with the combination lock.
A local educational agency (LEA) must provide each child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE). An LEA meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child in part by providing special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services in conformity with a proper IEP. The IEP must specify special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services to meet the childs needs. The amount of services to be provided must be stated in the IEP, so that the level of the agencys commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team members. In this case, the childs IEP listed the frequency and amount of the above mentioned supplementary aids and services as, "as needed". It would be appropriate for the IEP to specify, based upon the IEP teams determination of the students unique needs, that particular services are needed only under specific circumstances, such as the occurrence of a particular behavior or the presence of a particular stimuli. The "as needed" provisions in the students IEPs do not specify the amount of resources and do not identify the circumstances under which a particular service will be provided on an "as needed" basis.
Prior to the start of the 2001-2002 school term, the district must hold an IEP team meeting to review and revise the applicable provisions of the students current IEP so that the amount of special education and supplementary aids and services clearly identifies the level of the districts commitment of resources, including the specific circumstances under which a particular service will be provided on an "as needed" basis. The district also must ensure that its staff are aware of this requirement for appropriate statements of the amount and frequency of special education services in students IEPs. The district will advise the department of its proposed corrective actions within 30 days of the date of this decision.
//signed MJT 6/29/01
Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy