IDEA Complaint Decision 01-038

On April 25, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues in the complaint are whether the district, during the 2000-2001 school year, failed to:

  • determine the childs progress toward annual goals in areas of math, language arts-reading, and science or social studies as required in the individualized education program (IEP);
  • ensure that special education teachers supervise special education aides and that aides do not perform professional teaching responsibilities;
  • provide supplementary aids and services for the child by making materials available in a timely manner for adaptation and pre-teaching before class instruction as provided in the IEP;
  • provide specially designed instruction in the following areas as required in the IEP:
    1. one-on-one instructional time from a special education teacher for language arts and math, and special education teacher support/instruction in areas other than math and language arts;
    2. friendship group,
    3. replacing curriculum for foreign language and decision class; and
  • provide program modifications or supports for school personnel in the following areas as required in the IEP:
    1. two 20-minute meetings per month and on-going consultation and support from the autism program support teacher,
    2. assistive technology consultation one to two hours per month,
    3. materials and communicate unit expectations one week in advance.

The complainants allege the district did not report progress in the goal areas of math, reading, and science or social studies. Parents of a child with a disability must be regularly informed at least as often as parents of non-disabled children are informed of their childs progress toward the annual goals, and the extent to which the progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the effective period of the IEP.

The childs IEP for the 2000-2001 school year states that progress will be measured through anecdotal logs, demonstration/performance, checklists and reported to parents on a quarterly basis using a report card insert. As of the date when the complaint was filed, the quarterly progress report card inserts were sent to the parents on October 25, 2000, and January 26, 2001. The district stated progress on the IEP goals was also discussed at a series of on-going meetings. The former special education teacher, who worked from August through October 2000 reported that smaller group meetings were held on the first and third Mondays of the month with the parent and the special education teacher. There were also after school larger group meetings held on the second Monday of the month including the parent and staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP. The larger group meetings were held on September 12, October 9, November 13, and December 11, 2000, and January 9, and February 19, 2001. The current special education teacher, who worked from the middle of November through the remainder of the school year, agreed that these meetings occurred. In addition, two Special Education Aides (SEA) and two special education teachers confirmed that a logbook addressing the students academic and social/behavioral progress was sent to parents on a daily basis. The district ensured that the parents were informed of their childs progress toward the annual goals as required.

A district must ensure that the childs program complies with state requirements including the requirement that professional teaching responsibilities be carried out by or directly supervised by a special education teacher who is licensed by the department. Direct supervision means regular, continuing interaction between the special education teacher and teacher aide which includes time to evaluate the services provided. There must be sufficient contact between the special education teacher and the teacher aide, and between the teacher and the student to enable the teacher to diagnose educational needs, prescribe teaching and learning procedures, and evaluate the effects of teaching. The complainants allege that the SEA was not supervised properly and she carried out professional teaching responsibilities.

During an interview, the SEA stated that she was on her own with little supervision and consultation time from the special education teacher. However, she indicated that she had access to the special education teacher because they were in the same classrooms each day. The former special education teacher stated that when the SEA and the child were in the regular education classrooms, there was a regular education teacher or special education teacher, or both, in the classroom. Further, when the SEA and child were in the resource room, the SEA had access to the special education teacher, but not always immediately. The current special education teacher indicated that she met with the SEA on a daily basis and on Mondays during the seventh grade planning time with the regular education teacher.

The SEA reported that she or the parent would select materials and modify them before class instruction and the SEA would use these materials to teach the child. The SEA stated that she or the parent selected and modified the materials because the required staff did not provide the materials before class instruction. The SEA also corrected the childs daily work, and would then inform the parents and the special education teacher of the childs progress through the daily logbook; however, grades were assigned by licensed teachers. Both special education teachers stated the SEA or the parent independently selected and modified materials for class instruction. Regular and continuing interaction between the special education teacher and the SEA occurred. However, the SEA carried out professional teaching responsibilities that included prescribing teaching and learning procedures. Prior to the beginning of the school year, staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP will meet to become familiar with the IEP and delineate their roles and responsibilities. The district will provide in-service training prior to September 30, to include staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP. As part of the in-service training the district will use the "Comparison of Teacher and SEA Duties" tool to ensure that all required staff understand their roles and responsibilities. In addition, the special education teacher, a teacher licensed by the department, will be responsible for prescribing teaching and learning procedures. The district will send the department documentation of the corrective activities by September 30, 2001.

A district has an obligation to provide supplementary aids and services and specially designed instruction in conformity with an IEP. The childs IEP indicates supplementary aids and services will be provided 100% of the time in all school environments. Specifically, the IEP provides that materials will be available for adaptation and pre-teaching one week in advance, and ready for the child to use during classroom instruction. An audio tape recording of the IEP team meeting supports this agreement. In a letter written to the parents, the special education coordinator stated that the general and special education teachers meet daily to review curricula, plan lessons, and respond to the needs of their students both with and without disabilities including discussion of modifications and adaptations per individual student IEP. However, the district also acknowledged in its response to the department that it did not make materials available for adaptation and pre-teaching one week in advance for the child to use during classroom instruction. After the complaint was filed, the district held an IEP team meeting to review and revise the childs IEP for the following school year. Attached to the IEP is a tool entitled "Comparison of Teacher and SEA Duties" which will be used to delineate teacher and SEA roles and responsibilities. Prior to the beginning of the school year, staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP will meet to become familiar with the IEP and delineate their roles and responsibilities. The district has also hired a special education teacher experienced in the area of the childs disability who will act as the childs case manager for the school year. The special education teacher will select and modify appropriate classroom materials, and guide the SEA in learning how to teach new concepts and skills to be pre-taught to the child. The district will send the department documentation of these corrective activities by September 30, 2001.

The IEP dated June 1, 2000, states the child will receive one-on-one language arts instruction in the resource room for 5 hours per week, with 30 minutes provided by the special education teacher. The SEA indicated she provided one-on-one language arts instruction for the remaining 4-1/2 hours per week. The IEP also specified one-on-one math instruction in the resource room for 3 hours per week, with 30 minutes per week provided by the special education teacher. The SEA indicated she provided the remainder of the one-on-one math instruction in the resource room. It also states one-on-one math instruction in the regular education classroom for 2 hours per week and the SEA reported she provided this service. The IEP also states one-on-one support in science and social studies including homeroom and the Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) for 5 hours per week and the SEA indicated she provided this support. In addition, the IEP states that the special education teacher will provide 30 minutes per week for "support/instruction in other areas (in addition to math and language arts) to be varied to allow for contact across areas."

The former and current special education teachers indicated they provided the one-on-one instruction for 30 minutes per week in language arts, 30 minutes per week in math, and 30 minutes per week for support/instruction in other areas. The current special education teacher stated she also provided observation in the science and social studies classrooms, while the SEA provided the child with support. The SEA indicated she was with the child for the entire school day and provided her with support. The district ensured that one-on-one instruction or support was provided to the child in the areas of language arts, math, science, social studies, and other areas of the curriculum as required by the IEP.

The current IEP states that a friendship group and a replacement curriculum for foreign language and decision classes will be provided for the child. Interviews with the special education teacher and SEA, and materials provided by the complainants indicated the "friendship group" did not occur during the 2000-2001 school year. In addition, replacing the foreign language and decision classes with a substitute curriculum did not occur. The district acknowledged it did not provide the friendship group and the replaced curriculum for the foreign language and decision classes. The 2001-2002 IEP does not address these areas, however, the district will provide training for the childs peers focusing on her disability area. The special education teacher will develop and deliver the training for the childs peers. In addition, the district will conduct a needs assessment to determine specific staff training needs, which will be completed by the special education and related services staff prior to the beginning of the school year. Prior to September 30, the district will provide in-service training based on the needs assessment results to include staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP. The training areas will include, for example, student characteristics, support strategies for curriculum delivery, work performance evaluation, material adaptations, and team communication. The district will send the department documentation of the corrective activities by September 30, 2001.

The IEP states modifications and supports for school personnel will be provided, in part, through two 20-minute-per-month meetings including parents, and on-going consultation and support from the program support teacher. Based on materials submitted by the district and interviews with the special education teachers, smaller group meetings were held on the first and third Mondays of the month with the parent and special education teacher, and after school larger group meetings held on the second Monday of the month including the parent and staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP. The larger group meetings were held on September 12, October 9, November 13, and December 11, 2000, and January 9, and February 19, 2001. Meetings with the special education teacher, SEA and regular education teacher were held each Monday during the seventh grade planning time. The district ensured that the two 20-minute meetings with parents occurred each month.

The IEP states that on-going consultation and support from the program support teacher will include "four hours per week the first month, eight hours per month the second month, and at least four hours per month, thereafter." The district provided documentation on the number of hours the program support teacher spent at the school for on-going consultation and support. This teacher recorded his time from August 2000 through March 2001. The total number of hours rendered each month was 10 hours (August), 11.75 hours (September), 13 hours (October), 9-1/2 hours (November), 12.5 hours (December), 8 hours (January), 18.5 hours (February), and 31 hours (March). The program support teacher stated that he regularly attended scheduled meetings. He indicated that on-going consultation and support was provided to the staff from the beginning of the school year to the end. The district ensured that the program support teacher provided the on-going consultation and support to staff as required by the IEP.

The complainants allege that assistive technology consultation one to two hours per month as required by the IEP was not provided. Through interviews with the SEA, special education teacher, and principal, and materials provided by the complainants, it was determined that staff were not in agreement or not fully aware of who provided assistive technology consultation one to two hours per month. The complainants also allege materials were not provided and unit expectations were not communicated one week in advance to the SEA and special education teacher on a consistent basis. Based on interviews with the required staff and materials provided by the complainants, materials were not provided before classroom instruction and unit expectations were not communicated to the special education aide on a consistent basis as required by the IEP.

As a part of the districts corrective activities, prior to the beginning of the school year, staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP will participate in completing a needs assessment to determine the adequacy of assistive technology services and needs for training. Before September 30, the district will provide in-service training based on the needs assessment results to include staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP. Special education and related service staff will also have access to assistive technology assistance at the building level through the special education teacher and speech and language pathologist, and through the assistive technology support specialist located at the central office. The special education teacher will be available for providing assistive technology orientation and training to staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP. In addition, the required staff will make materials available and communicate the unit expectations to the SEA in a timely manner. Prior to the beginning of the school year, staff responsible for portions of the childs IEP will meet to become familiar with the IEP and delineate their roles and responsibilities. Before September 30, the special education and related services staff will participate in an in-service training that will focus on staff roles and responsibilities and team communication. The special education teacher, a teacher licensed by the department, will be responsible for prescribing teaching and learning procedures; individuals without a teacher license will not engage in teacher responsibilities. Prior to the beginning of school, the district will provide an in-service training including required staff, which will focus on staff roles and responsibilities. The district will send the department documentation of the corrective activities by September 30, 2001.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/21/01
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/svb

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