IDEA Complaint Decision 03-032

On July 9, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Marinette. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during a June 2003 individualized education program (IEP) team meeting:

  • Properly determined the supplementary aids and services to be provided to the student in regular education; and
  • Determined the student's need for one-to-one staff assistance based on student-specific information and properly documented this determination and the team's decision regarding the provision of speech and language services.

The parent filing this complaint knew that he would not be attending the IEP team meeting scheduled for June 2, 2003, for his son. He requested that the district provide him with a draft IEP so that he could provide his comments to the student's mother, who would attend the meeting. During the meeting district staff made written notations on a copy of the draft IEP which had been provided to the parent. At the end of the meeting the mother asked for, and received, a copy of the IEP with the written notations and the cover page which included the signatures of the meeting participants. The next day the district sent to the parents a copy of the student's IEP including a notice of placement. The IEP sent to the parent with the notice of placement differed somewhat from the draft IEP with written notations. This complaint relates to several of those differences.

The parent maintains that by signing the draft IEP at the end of the meeting, the meeting participants indicated that this was the student's IEP. However, by signing the IEP the participants only were indicating their attendance at the meeting. It was not until the district gave the parents the final IEP with the notice of placement that the district provided them with a copy of their child's IEP. In Wisconsin, notice that an IEP team has modified a student's IEP is provided to parents by completing the notice of placement page which includes important information about procedural protections. The district properly provided the parents with a copy of their son's IEP when it mailed the IEP and placement on June 3, 2003.

The parent's primary concerns relate to the supplementary aids and services to be provided to his son in regular education and whether the district properly determined and documented the determination of whether the student would be assisted in regular education classes by a special education aide. After the complaint was filed, the parent amended the complaint to include whether the district properly documented the team's decision about the amount of speech and language service to be provided to the student and whether it would be individual or group therapy. The team discussed each of these areas of need during the June 2 meeting and reached decisions based on the individual needs of the student. The team determined that due to his skill level and need for small group instruction, the student would not be able to participate in most regular education classes at his grade level even with supplementary aids and services. The team also addressed the student's need for speech and language service.

The student is participating in a general vocational education class and a U.S. history class with staff assistance, which is consistent with determinations made by the IEP team. When he is in the general education vocational education class, he is assisted by special education staff designated to work on vocational skills with special education students. When he attends U.S. history class, he is accompanied by an aide assigned to work in the special education classroom where the student receives the majority of his instruction. Other special education students also are assisted by the special education staff both in U.S. history and in the vocational class at the same time this student is assisted in those classes. The team determined that in light of this support, the student did not require one-to-one aide assistance and did not include this service in the student's IEP. On June 12 the district sent the parent a notice of district response to the parent's request made at the IEP team meeting that the student have a one-to-one assistant while in regular education classes. The team made decisions based on the student's individual needs after discussing the parent's request for aide support and properly documented the decisions on the IEP.

The IEP team determined that the student requires speech and language services three times per week, 20 minutes each session. Two of these sessions are to be individual assistance from the therapist and the third session is to be a group session. The goals in the student's IEP include short-term objectives relating to the student successfully communicating with peers and adults. These objectives are worked on during group sessions. The IEP sent to the parent on June 3 does not clearly document this determination. Instead, the IEP indicates that speech and language service is to be provided "20 min per day 2-3 times per week." The district will revise this portion of the IEP so that it accurately reflects the team's decision and provide the parents with a copy.

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

//signed CST 9/8/03
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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