IDEA Complaint Decision 02-011

On February 13, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Sun Prairie Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2001-2002 school year, failed to:

 

  • Implement the individualized education program (IEP) for a child with a disability by not providing accommodations related to test taking, reducing visual stimuli on tests and assignments, providing access to books on tape, providing services enabling the child to demonstrate to his parent his ability to use software by the end of the first semester, providing services enabling the child to type a one-page document by the end of the first quarter, ensuring that learning disabilities staff weekly send out academic checks to all of the student's teachers until the end of first quarter, providing the student with a laminated hall pass enabling him to utilize an environmental modification, hand scheduling the child's classes each semester, providing services enabling the student to seek extensions of time for major assignments or projects, ensuring that a guidance counselor reviews the student's class schedule at the end of each semester, providing services enabling the student to talk with his teachers about his disability and the accommodations in his IEP at the beginning of each semester, notifying the parent that an error analysis meeting has occurred or will occur between the student and regular education teachers, provide learning disability support services for reading and writing;

     

  • Provide the parents with a copy of the child's IEP with the notice of placement;

     

  • Ensure that the child's IEP is accessible to his teachers and other service providers;

     

  • Regularly inform the parents of the child's progress toward his annual goals and whether that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals;

     

  • Notify the parents of the child's educational placement within 90 days of initiating a reevaluation of the child in November;

     

  • Safeguard the confidentiality of a child's education record by leaving the file on a mobile cart in a hallway with personally identifiable information exposed; and

     

  • Provide the parent, upon request, access to the child's educational record containing the results of achievement testing performed on May 11 and 15, 2000.

 

The IEP developed on May 24, 2001, and revised on November 1, 2001, was to be implemented during the 2001-2002 school year for the student who is the subject of this complaint. The mother contends that portions of the IEP were not implemented. The following issues have been acknowledged and addressed by the district.

 

Implement the individualized education program (IEP) for a child with a disability by not providing accommodations related to test taking, reducing visual stimuli on test and assignments: The IEP states that the student will be allowed to utilize "decreased visual stimuli on test and assignments (also font; no small print); test and assignments modified as determined by staff." The mother contends that the font size on some of the materials used by her son was sometimes too small. District staff stated that this accommodation was considered when assignments and test were prepared and would have been provided if staff determined a need. The IEP developed on June 4, 2002, clarifies this modification by revising it to read "also font; no small print less than 10 pt." The mother further contends that her son did not receive accommodations for the PLAN test. Staff maintain that this was an optional practice test. They also maintain that neither the student nor the two staff members administering the test were aware that the mother had registered her son to take the test until his name appeared on the final printout the day the test was given. They stated that given the short notice, appropriate accommodations (use of a calculator and clarification of directions) were provided. The department concludes that the district has properly addressed these components of the IEP.

 

Providing access to books on tape: The IEP states that based on a need for assistive technology services the student will "have access to books on tape." The mother contends that not all assigned books were provided on tape. The district maintains that access to recorded or read aloud materials was provided. The options included books on tape, books read by the Kurzweil Reader and books read aloud by program support staff. They also stated that when access was difficult to provide due to availability of taped materials, the student was not penalized. The district has now agreed to provide all books needed by the student for the upcoming school year either on tape, CD, or in collaboration with services offered by Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic. The parent has verified that this has been included in the IEP developed on June 4, 2002. The department concludes that the district has properly addressed this component of the IEP.

 

Providing services enabling the child to demonstrate to his parent his ability to use software by the end of the first semester; providing services enabling the child to type a one-page document by the end of the first quarter: The IEP states that the student will "demonstrate use of software to the parent by end of 1st semester of sophomore year." "Within 1 month write a well constructed and organized 5 paragraph essay." The mother contends that neither of these goals was accomplished. District staff maintain that the student was exposed to the technology but never became proficient because he chose not to use the software or to practice his typing skills to the extent necessary to become proficient. Staff also maintains that the student can write a one page essay and has done it but that it takes him a long time. District staff provided records of class attendance and participation along with anecdotal notes to support their position. The department concludes that the district has provided services related to meeting these IEP goals.

 

Providing the student with a laminated hall pass enabling him to utilize an environmental modification: The IEP states that the student will be allowed to spend 5-10 minutes in a quiet place when he "shows his laminated hall pass . . . ." The mother contends that a laminated hall pass was never given to the student. District staff stated that a pass was given to the student at least once each academic year for the past two years. They also stated that all of the student's teachers were aware of his need for this accommodation and allowed for it without requiring the pass. In response to the mother's request, a staff member was directed to issue another laminated pass to the student and the mother confirmed this was done. The department concludes that the district has implemented this component of the IEP.

 

Ensuring that a guidance counselor reviews the student's class schedule at the end of each semester; hand scheduling the child's classes each semester: The IEP states that the student's "guidance counselor will review his class schedule, credits earned at the end of each semester with him . . . ." The mother contends that this had not happened until recently (April 16, 2002), and that the counselor has not provided information requested on her son's credit completion. District staff stated that the hand scheduling of classes for the student has been done consistently and provided copies of the student's schedules to support their position. They further stated that constraints such as course offerings, times, space available, and identifying teachers who were an appropriate match for the student sometimes posed challenges when scheduling changes were requested after a term had begun. A letter from the counselor to the parents dated April 11, 2002, contains the information requested by the mother regarding credits earned, graduation requirements and colleges that recognize American Sign Language as a replacement for foreign language. The department concludes the district has implemented these components of the IEP.

 

Providing services enabling the student to talk with his teachers about his disability and the accommodations in his IEP at the beginning of each semester: The IEP states the "student will talk to individual teachers next year and give an explanation of his disability, the modifications, and the need for his modifications at the beginning of each semester." The mother contends that staff did not work with her son on developing strategies to approach teachers and discuss his needs. District staff maintain that opportunities were given and strategies were presented and discussed with the student who continually refused to cooperate. On the June 4, 2002, IEP this objective was revised to read "Demonstrate self advocacy skills by approaching teachers on his own." The department concludes that the district has taken appropriate action to implement this component of the IEP.

 

Provide learning disability support services for reading and writing: The IEP states "Due to the student's delays in reading and writing, he will receive support from the learning disabilities resource room/staff to remediate these areas of deficit." The mother contends that the level of support offered is not sufficient to remediate her son's deficits. The student had two LD study hall periods each day. The district maintains that one-to-one support was provided on an as needed/by request basis to the student in a setting with one certified teacher and two assistants. During the June 4, 2002, IEP meeting the team determined that additional services were needed in this area. The IEP now specifies under Special Education services needed that "1:1 reading instruction in basic reading skills and writing (multisensory, phonetic based instruction) is to be provided through extended school year programming." This revision has addressed the identified need for more specific procedures for addressing the student's reading and writing deficits. The department concludes that the district has addressed this issue by revising this portion of the IEP.

 

Providing services enabling the student to seek extensions of time for major assignments or projects: The IEP states that the student will be allowed to utilize "time extensions" and specifies the conditions agreed upon by the IEP team. The mother contends that time extensions were not given unless she requested them and that the student received no assistance from staff in identifying when extensions were needed. Staff maintain that the IEP specifies procedures and parameters for extensions listed on the addendum page and that the student was required to follow these procedures when requesting extensions. The department concludes the district has implemented this component of the IEP.

 

Provide the parent upon request access to the child's educational record containing the results of achievement testing performed on May 11 and 15, 2000; safeguard the confidentiality of a child's education record by leaving the file on a mobile cart in a hallway with personally identifiable information exposed: The mother contends that when she requested her son's test results from an assessment that was administered in May 2000, the information was missing from her son's pupil record file. District staff verified that the assessment report and protocol form were missing from the student's file and no copy of the information was ever located. The mother also contends that on a separate occasion when she visited the school her son's confidential pupil record file was left on a cart with his name exposed and in full view of anyone passing through the area. District staff acknowledged that the mobile cart used to transport and store files temporarily was in an area adjacent to a public walkway when the mother saw the file. On April 11, 2002, in response to this incident, the district administrator sent a letter to the staff directing them to develop a plan for addressing concerns related to maintaining confidentiality of student information. The department concludes that the district failed to safeguard the confidentiality of the student's education record. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district is directed to submit to the department the plan for ensuring proper maintenance, storage, and confidentiality of pupil records.

 

Regularly inform the parents of the child's progress toward his annual goals and whether that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals: The IEP states that one of the procedures for informing parents of the student's progress toward the annual goal is to be progress reports. The mother contends that she has never received a written progress report on her son's progress toward annual goals. District staff maintain that goal progress was reported as specified in the IEP. They further stated that the IEP developed on June 4, 2002, now specifies that the "IEP report card indicating progress toward goals and objectives quarterly." This statement has been included to address the mother's request for written progress reports. District staff stated that a report was written and mailed (6/6/02) to the mother that gives a quarterly breakdown of the student's progress on each IEP goal and objective for this past school year. The department concludes the district has implemented this component of the IEP.

 

Notifying the parent that an error analysis meeting has occurred or will occur between the student and regular education teachers; ensuring that learning disabilities staff weekly send out academic checks to all of the student's teachers until the end of first quarter: The IEP states "Parent will be notified within 2-3 days of when error analysis meeting has taken place via e-mail and/or phone call." It also states "each week through end of 1st quarter LD staff member will send out an academic check to all of the student's teachers." The mother contends that she was not consistently informed when or if an error analysis meeting occurred and that not all of her son's teachers were completing the academic checks. District staff maintain that efforts were made to collect, coordinate and disseminate this information from all of the student's teachers but that there were occasional lapses. The IEP developed on June 4, 2002, reflects reporting strategies that the IEP team including the parent identified as appropriate for the upcoming school year. The department concludes that the district has taken appropriate action to address these two issues and implement these portions of the IEP.

 

Notify the parents of the child's educational placement within 90 days of initiating a reevaluation of the child in November: The parent and the district are currently involved in mediation regarding this issue. They have mutually agreed to set aside this issue pending the outcome of mediation.

 

Provide the parents with a copy of the child's IEP with the notice of placement; ensure that the child's IEP is accessible to his teachers and other service providers: State and federal special education laws require districts to provide a notice of placement along with a copy of the IEP prior to implementation. The mother contends that following the IEP meeting held on November 1, 2001, with a projected date of implementation of November 2, 2001, she was not given a notice of placement or a copy of the IEP. She also contends that she did not receive a copy of the IEP until the end of February 2002. The mother stated that not all of her son's teachers had copies of his current IEP and as a result were not able to implement the portions for which they were responsible. The district maintains that all teachers and relevant service providers were given copies of the student's IEP once the document had been reviewed and portions of it typed up by the district special education administrative staff. The district also maintains that all other building staff having a need to know had access to the IEP. District staff acknowledged that the notice of placement and a copy of the IEP were not given to the parent prior to implementation. They were unable to verify the exact date that the documents were completed and mailed to the parents. Implementation of a student's IEP is contingent upon timely and appropriate distribution of the current document.

 

The department concludes that the district failed to provide the mother with a notice of placement and a copy of the IEP prior to implementation. The department further concludes that staff did not have timely access to the student's current IEP due to delays between the IEP date of implementation and dissemination of the copies to the parents and staff. The department has received corrective action materials from the district following complaint investigation 00-030 with the related issue of providing services consistent with the IEP. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district is directed to review and revise the corrective action plan to include activities for the ensuring that parents of students with disabilities are provided with proper written notice of placement and a copy of the IEP prior to implementation and activities for ensuring that staff have current copies of student's IEP.

 

This concludes our review of this complaint.

 

//signed CST 6/13/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

 

Dec/dht

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