IDEA Complaint Decision 02-005

On January 29, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received two complaints under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the New London School District. This is the department's decision regarding those complaints. The issues are whether the district, during the 2001-2002 school year failed to:
  • timely respond to parent requests for individualized education program (IEP) team meetings;
  • provide parents copies of completed IEPs in a timely manner;
  • implement the IEPs regarding sign language services.
The issues of this complaint pertain to the education of two children attending the New London School District. The parents filed two complaints with the department, one for each child. The issues for each child are the same and the department investigated the issues as they pertain to each child.

The parents contend that since October 5, 2001, they have made requests for IEP team meetings for both children. An IEP team meeting was last held for one child on September 19, 2001, and on September 26, 2001, for the other child. Shortly after the September 26, 2001, IEP team meeting, the parents indicated that they would like to meet concerning the goals of the September 26 IEP. The district was unsure whether the parents were requesting an IEP team meeting, or whether one was required, and contacted the parents' attorney. The parents' attorney related to the district that the parents only wanted a meeting to clarify how the IEP was to be implemented, not an IEP team meeting.

A meeting was scheduled with the parents, their attorney, and school district staff for November 8, 2001. The parents and the district were to send each other a list of their concerns so an agenda could be established. The district sent the parents a list of district concerns on November 5, 2001, which included issues related to the purpose and content of the notebook, general communication issues, parent access to staff, parent access to the school building, speech and language service resolution, and small group meeting purpose. The district never received a list from the parents. The parents notified the district that they would not attend the November 8th meeting, but would be represented by their attorney. The meeting was held and a communication system was developed outlining how communication between home and school was to take place.

Other concerns indicated by the parents, through notes in the school home notebook, had to do with instructional methodology and with staff assignments. The district believes both of these issues are not concerns of an IEP team, but rather district decisions. On November 26, 2001, a meeting was held with the parents, director of pupil services for the district, and the district's counsel. The parents stated that they wanted an observation and a report conducted by a deaf psychologist, and not an IEP team meeting.

On January 1, 2002, the district received an e-mail from the parents requesting an IEP team meeting to discuss how, when, and by whom the IEP goals should be addressed. The district agreed that a meeting should be scheduled that would include the report from the deaf psychologist. The district was also in the process of reconvening the IEP team to conduct the three-year reevaluation. The psychologist observed one of the children on December 11, 2001, and the district received his report on February 5, 2002. The district provided evidence of their attempts to obtain the report as soon as possible so that an IEP team meeting could be scheduled. Once the report arrived, the IEP team meeting was delayed by difficulties coordinating schedules, and the fact that the district was waiting on parent consent to administer a reading test requested by the parents related to the reevaluation. The district scheduled an IEP team meeting for March 19, 2002. Given the specific facts of this case, the department concludes that the district properly scheduled an IEP team meeting in a timely manner.

The department reviewed copies of both children's IEPs and concluded that for one, the IEP team meeting was held on September 19, 2001, and parents were provided copies on September 20, 2001. For the other child, the IEP team meeting was held on September 26, 2001, and parents were provided a notice of placement and a copy of the IEP at that meeting and another copy on October 18, 2001. A previous IEP team meeting for this child was held on April 9, 2001, and parents received copies on April 10, 2001. The department determines that the district properly provided a copy of each child's IEP to the parents.

The parents contend that the IEP is not being implemented because IEP goals are not being worked on. The district sent to the department examples of progress reports sent to the parents indicating each child's progress toward IEP goals. The parents also contend that there was an agreement to provide sign language services only within the regular education classroom, and that for one child, a notebook with signs used in class was to be sent home. In its response to this complaint, the district agrees that there was an agreement to implement sign language goals only within the regular education classroom. However, the children's IEPs do not indicate this. One child's IEP lists, "Regular education and resource room" as the location of services. The other child's IEP states only the name of the school in which services will be provided. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department to ensure that special education staff are aware that location of special education services, supplementary aids and services, and program modifications or supports for school personnel, in the context of an IEP, refers to the type of environment that is the appropriate place for the provision of services; for example, regular education classroom, resource room, separate classroom, etc. If the IEP states regular and resource room, it is unclear when services are provided in each location. The department received no other evidence that either of the students' IEP goals were not being implemented. Due to the fact that the children are no longer enrolled in the school district, the department is not requiring corrective action specific to these children.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 3/28/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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