IDEA Complaint Decision 02-028

On April 24, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wrightstown 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 regarding use of a picture exchange system and staff training relating to the child's disability;
  • regularly inform the parent of the child's progress toward the annual goals and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to achieve the goals;
  • review the current IEP in a timely manner; and
  • include the required participants at the child's IEP team meetings.

On April 6, 2001, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the child's IEP. This IEP states under the supplementary aids, services, and other supports section that the child will receive "Visual Cues/Pictures (ex. board maker)," a picture exchange system (PES) to be provided on a daily basis. The parents allege the district did not use a PES on a consistent basis and when visiting their child's classrooms on several occasions, they noted the teachers were not using it. During interviews with the regular and special education teachers, and the speech and language therapist, each indicated that a PES was being used in the general education classroom and resource room. They maintained that a PES was used on a daily basis for new activities and to initiate or redirect unlearned activities, and was not used for tasks that the child had mastered. Further, the special education teacher consulted with the autism consultant about when to use or not to use the PES. The consultant indicated that the PES should not be used for tasks already mastered, but to use it for unlearned tasks or redirection of tasks. In a letter to the department, the school psychologist also maintained the PES was used on a daily basis in the general education classroom and resource room since the onset of the current IEP. The department concludes the district ensured the child received a PES in the classroom on a daily basis.

The parents allege the district did not provide staff with training related to the child's disability. The child's current IEP indicates under the program modifications or supports for school personnel section that "Consultation to teaching staff in area of sensory processing and student's individual needs" would be provided "not less than 1 X per year." During phone interviews with staff members, the occupational therapist stated that she was trained in sensory processing techniques related to the child's disability area. Her training included prior college training, Sensory Integration technique training, work experience with children with autism (e.g., line therapist for Lovass technique), and on-going professional development. The special education teacher and speech and language therapist indicated that the occupational therapist provided them with consultation in the area of sensory processing techniques when requested, and shared materials and techniques for use with the child. The speech therapist received college credits for courses that included content on autism and augmentative communication and had previously worked with children with autism. During the spring semester, the special education teacher enrolled in a college course that included content on autism, and she enrolled in a summer CESA PES workshop and a fall DPI autism training session. The regular education teacher stated that assistance was available and that on different occasions she worked with the Line Therapist on various sensory processing techniques. The child's first grade teacher is scheduled to attend one of the fall DPI autism workshops. District staff indicated that the autism consultant had conducted in-services for all staff in April and May of this year and a posting of the DPI autism workshops was made available to all staff. The department concludes the district ensured staff were provided with training related to the child's disability through on-going consultation provided by the occupational therapist and autism consultant, on-going personnel development by individual staff members, and inservice provided two times during the school year.

The parents contend the district did not regularly inform them of their child's progress toward the annual goals and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to achieve the goals, at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children's progress. The child's IEP for the 2001-2002 school year states that progress will be measured through observation and anecdotal records, informal assessment, charting, work samples, teacher feedback, and spontaneous speech log and will be reported to parent on a quarterly basis using written progress reports. The IEP also includes a rating scale that is used as a measure for determining the child's progress each quarter. During phone interviews with the special education teacher, speech and language therapist and occupational therapist, each stated individual progress reports were sent to the parent's home on a quarterly basis and each used the rating scale to measure progress. Other measures used to inform the parents of their child's progress included weekly Friday meetings with a parent during the second semester and speech and language working notes provided to the parents. The department in its review of all of the materials submitted by the district, determines the district ensured that the parents were informed of their child's progress toward the annual goals and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the effective period of the IEP, and at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled children's progress.

The parents allege the district did not review the IEP dated April 6, 2001, in a timely manner. On January 15, 2002, the parent requested an IEP team meeting to review and revise their child's IEP. The district did not convene an IEP team meeting following the parents' request. The parents and district agreed to reevaluate the child; however, the parents wanted an IEP team meeting to review the IEP as soon as possible. After conducting tests and other evaluation materials, the district sent IEP team meeting notices to the parents requesting their attendance on March 20, 28, or April 5. The parents were able to attend the April 5 IEP team meeting during which the child's IEP was reviewed. The IEP team went on to review the child's IEP on April 15, 18, and May 2. The department concludes the district did not ensure that an IEP team meeting was held in a timely manner in response to the parents' January 15 request. The district will, within 30 days of receipt of this decision, submit to the department a plan to ensure that the district responds to parent requests for IEP team meetings by either scheduling meetings at mutually agreed on times or providing written notice to the parents of a refusal, including an explanation of why the agency has determined that conducting the meeting is not necessary.

The parents contend the district did not include the required participants at the child's IEP team meetings held on April 5, 15, 18, and May 2. The parents indicated that the autism consultant did not attend each meeting. Documents including the IEP cover page and a list of attendees confirmed that the following participants were in attendance at the IEP team meetings: parents, Kindergarten teacher, principal, two special education teachers, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, local educational agency (LEA) representative/school psychologist, parent advocate, outside agency consultants, and the district's attorney at each meeting. The autism consultant, first grade teacher and teacher's aide attended only the April 5 IEP team meeting. The district must ensure that each IEP team consists of the parents of the child; at least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in a regular educational environment; at least one special education teacher who has extensive and recent training and experience related to the child's known or suspected disability; a representative of the LEA; an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results; and at the discretion of the parents or the local educational agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about the child, including related services personnel as appropriate. The department concludes the district ensured that the IEP team consisted of the required team participants.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 7/29/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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