On February 21, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Portage Community School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2001-2002 school year, failed to implement the individualized education program (IEP) of a child with a disability regarding a teacher for children with hearing impairments services and educational interpreter services.
The parents allege the district failed to provide their child with a teacher for children with hearing impairment services as outlined in his IEP. Specifically, the parents contend that there are no services provided on days when the teacher for children with hearing impairments is out sick or covering for an interpreter. The district maintains that it provided the required services and, at times, exceeded services required in the IEP. The student's May 14, 2001, IEP states that the student will receive deaf and hard of hearing services, "1 study hall, 45 min/day" the first quarter, and, "2 study hall, 45 min/day" the second quarter, except two days per week when the student receives speech.
It is unclear whether "2 study halls, 45 min/day" means the student will receive a total of 45 min/day of services split between the two study halls, or whether the IEP requires 90 min/day - 45 min/day for each study hall. Given this lack of clarity, the department could not determine whether the district provided the services promised in the IEP. The IEP developed on March 11, 2002, clarifies the issue of the amount and frequency of the teacher for children with hearing impairments services. This clarification has corrected the ambiguity and describes the services to be provided with sufficient specificity. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department a proposed corrective action plan that ensures district staff understand their responsibilities in writing IEPs that are clear and understandable to all involved. Specifically, IEPs must clearly state the frequency and amount of special education services that will be provided.
The student's May 14, 2001, IEP includes educational interpreting services. The parents contend that when the sign language interpreter is not at school their son is without educational interpreting services. The district maintains that when the sign language interpreter is not at school, the teacher for children with hearing impairments provides the required educational interpreting. An educational interpreter in a PK-12 setting must have the DPI license #884. In this case, the teacher for children with hearing impairments does not hold that license. The department concludes that the district failed to provide interpreting services by not having a licensed educational interpreter provide the required services. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department a proposed corrective action plan to ensure that the district provides educational interpreting services using a licensed interpreter, and that students receive the amount of educational interpreting services specified in their IEPs. In addition, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must hold an IEP team meeting to determine whether additional services are required to compensate the child for the period during which services were not provided.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy