On August 23, 2001, a special education complaint was filed with the Department of Public Instruction by XXXXX against the Green Bay Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2000-2001 school year, failed to:
- Include required participants in an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting in May 2001;
- Review and, if appropriate, revise at least annually the child's IEP dated May 31, 2000;
- Consider, in developing the child's IEP, supplementary aids and services to enable the child to participate in extracurricular activities and the parent's concerns for enhancing the education of her child; and
- Respond timely to the parent's request for copies of the child's education records.
In their letter of complaint, the parents maintain that their child's IEP dated May 31, 2000, was not reviewed within one year and that a program support teacher for the district met with the parent in May of 2001 to modify the child's IEP without including other required IEP team participants. On May 7, 2001, an IEP team, including regular and special education teachers, the child's mother and grandmother, a local education agency representative, related service providers and others met to review the child's IEP. This review of the child's IEP occurred within one year of the May 31, 2000, IEP. The team met on May 7 for nearly 3 hours, but was not able to complete its revision of the IEP. The completed IEP reflects that it was developed at meetings held on May 7 and 10. Records submitted by the district include a meeting invitation for May 10 indicating that the parent agreed to meet with a program support teacher for the district to complete the IEP. District staff understood that the parent wanted to complete the IEP soon after the May 7 meeting, but scheduling a meeting with all required participants would take longer. On May 10, the parent did meet with a program support teacher to complete the child's IEP. While an LEA representative, special education teacher and regular education teacher were available to participate in the meeting, if needed, only the program support teacher and parent met on May 10. Modifications to the IEP were made during the meeting. The district acknowledges that the May 10 meeting did not include all required participants. The district has begun reminding all special education staff that modifications to IEPs may be made only during meetings which include required participants. Within 60 days of the date of this decision, the district will provide the department with evidence that it has completed this activity. Because an IEP team including required participants met on October 19, 2001, to review the child's IEP, no child-specific corrective action is required.
The complainants also maintain that the IEP team did not consider the parents' concerns for enhancing their child's education during its May 2001 meeting, particularly regarding services to be provided to enable the child to participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities. The parents of a child with a disability are expected to be equal participants along with school staff in developing, reviewing, and revising their child's IEP. This is an active role in which the parents provide, among other things, information regarding their child's strengths and express their concerns for enhancing the education of their child. The parent brought her own agenda to the May 7 meeting and the team considered each item presented to it during the meeting.
The related services portion of the May 2001 IEP requires that the student receive adult support on field trips depending on the physical demands and length of the trip. The May 2000 IEP does not include this service. The parent had advocated the need for inclusion of the new related service. The May 2001 IEP also includes various references to the parents' concerns for their child's education. A participant summary of findings completed by a physical therapist who evaluated the child's need for physical therapy services contains several descriptions of the parents' observations of their child's needs relating to his disability. A separate summary of physical therapy evaluation contains considerable information provided by the parent.
The present levels of educational performance contained in the May 2001 IEP include numerous concerns and descriptions of the child's abilities expressed by the parent. The present levels of educational performance in the May 2001 IEP are in a much more descriptive format and include more baseline information compared with the previous IEP. The May 2000 IEP has only one educational goal to increase language arts skills, though it relates to both reading and writing. The May 2001 IEP has three separate reading and writing goals, but also includes a goal for classroom survival skills and one for taking responsibility for managing specified exercises related to his disability. These goals are measurable and relate to meeting the child's needs that result from his disability to enable him to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum and to his other educational needs resulting from his disability. Among the materials forwarded to the department with the letter of complaint is a typed communication dated August 10, 2001, to two district staff outlining the parents' concerns with the goals. The goals resulting from the October 19, 2001, IEP team meeting incorporate some of the parents' proposals, further indicating that the IEP team considered the parents' concerns regarding their child's education.
The complaint also maintains that the parents' concerns related to transportation were not addressed by the district. The May 2000 IEP does not include transportation as a related service while the May 2001 IEP does include it. For a period of time late in May 2001, the parent raised issues with the district over the cab service which was being provided, primarily relating to the pick-up and drop-off times in the morning and afternoon. Other arrangements were made by the district and the October 19 IEP clarifies that cabs will not be used to transport the student. As evidenced by the changes in the IEPs noted above, the three-hour length of the May 2001 IEP team meeting and the holding of an IEP team meeting in October 2001, the district did consider the parents' concerns for enhancing their child's education.
By letter dated July 31, 2001, the parent requested copies of all of her child's school records. On August 10 district staff handed copies of all central office behavioral records along with copies of the student's records maintained at his school of attendance. These materials included personal notes maintained by the principal of the child's school. The records were provided promptly following the parent's request and within the required time period.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 2/8/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy