On November 29, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Medford 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 schedule a November 26, 2001, individualized education program (IEP) team meeting at a mutually agreed on time and properly notify the parent of who would attend the meeting; and failed to safeguard the confidentiality of a student's education records by releasing personally identifiable information to other students on November 13, 2001.
In regard to the first issue, the complainant states she received a notice on November 23, 2001, of an IEP meeting scheduled for November 26. This meeting date and time had been agreed upon during an earlier telephone conversation. The November 23 IEP team meeting notice indicated that an attorney for the district would attend the IEP team meeting. The complainant objected to the inclusion of the attorney at the meeting.
State and Federal law requires that school districts schedule IEP team meetings at a time mutually agreed upon with the parents, to ensure they will have an opportunity to attend. In this case, the date and time of the proposed November 26 IEP team meeting had been previously agreed upon, and the parent was able to attend the meeting. The district met its obligation in regard to this part of the issue.
State and Federal law do not expressly prohibit a school district or a parent from bringing an attorney to an IEP team meeting, although Appendix A to 34 CFR Part 300 does discourage their attendance. Federal regulations allow other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child to attend IEP team meetings at the discretion of the parent or the LEA. The determination of the knowledge or special expertise of an individual attending the meeting at parent or district discretion is made by the party who invited the individual to participate. The district was permitted to include an attorney at the November 26 IEP team meeting. Nonetheless, due to the parent's objections, the district agreed that the attorney would not attend the IEP team meeting. Districts must notify parents regarding who will attend IEP team meetings. The district met this requirement.
In the second issue, the complainant maintains that a teacher set out on a table graded test papers and had the students pick out their own papers. The complainant's child was absent from school that day, and her graded paper may have been seen by other students. State or Federal law does not clearly prohibit this common classroom practice.
This concludes the investigation of this complaint which we are closing.
//signed CST 1/28/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy