IDEA Complaint Decision 02-034

On May 28, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Peshtigo 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 regularly inform the complainant of the extent to which her child's progress toward annual goals was sufficient to enable him to achieve the goals by the individualized education program (IEP) ending date and to ensure periodic review of the student's IEP to determine whether his annual goals are being achieved.

The mother alleges that the district did not report progress toward annual goals as specified in her son's IEP. She further contends that because progress was not reported, she was unaware of the failing grades her son was receiving in courses taken during the 2001-2002 school year. The student's IEP developed on November 19, 2001, states that the procedures for informing the parent of progress are weekly phone calls/notes from special education teacher, quarterly report cards, and bi-quarterly progress reports. The district maintains that the mother was informed of her son's progress relative to his IEP goals on a weekly, quarterly, and " bi-quarterly" basis and has provided documentation to substantiate their position. Parents of a child with a disability must be regularly informed at least as often as parents of non-disabled children are informed of their child's progress toward annual goals, and the extent to which the progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the effective period of the IEP. The district met this requirement.

The district submitted records of the student's test and quiz scores, weekly grades for completed assignments, details of assignments that were missing or incomplete, general comments from individual teachers, and copies of "bi-quarterly" progress reports sent to the mother. The documentation shows a pattern of performance that fluctuated weekly. During the first semester the student passed all but one class (a one quarter long Living Skills class). He was given the option of completing missed assignments any time prior to the end of the school year in order to improve his grade to a passing level. The assignments were never completed. During the second semester the student's academic productivity declined. Test scores continued to fluctuate, but the number of missing and incomplete assignments increased weekly toward the end of the second semester. Multiple missing assignments combined with low test scores resulted in failing grades for courses that the student had been receiving low but passing grades in. The district reported the student's declining academic productivity in weekly progress reports to the mother. On May 21, 2002, the mother requested an IEP team meeting to review her son's progress. She stated that his failing grades were an indication his IEP goals were not being met and needed to be reviewed. The mother also requested that her son be evaluated for specific learning disabilities. District staff agreed there was a need to address the student's progress due to significant behavioral changes, inconsistent academic performance, and declining grades that had progressed to failing grades during the second semester of the school year.

The district responded to both of the mother's requests by scheduling an IEP team meeting for May 31, 2002, and initiating a re-evaluation. At the meeting on May 31, 2002, the IEP team determined that the student's lack of progress was due in part to increasing behavioral challenges. As a result, the IEP was revised to include more specific behavioral intervention goals and strategies. Clarification of existing program modifications and accommodations was included in the revised plan as were additional program modifications and accommodations deemed appropriate for addressing the student's current behavioral and academic needs. A district has an obligation to review a student's IEP periodically, but not less than annually. When a student is not making meaningful progress toward attaining goals and standards applicable to all children, it is appropriate to reconvene the IEP team to review progress. The department concludes that the district promptly reviewed and revised the student's IEP following the parent's request for an IEP team meeting and that the review was within one year of the previous review. The district met requirements related to periodic review of the student's IEP.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed 7/25/02 by SJP
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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