On January 12, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against New Berlin Public Schools. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year:
- Took steps to ensure that the student's preferences and interests were considered during individualized education program (IEP) team meetings which the student did not attend;
- Properly determined transition services to be included in the student's IEP and the communication devices which the student would use;
- Implemented the student's IEP regarding work experiences; and
- Provided written notice to the parent or student of changes in the student's program.
On November 20, 2003, the IEP team met to review and develop the annual IEP for an eighteen year old student, which included determining transition needs and services. The parents and the student received notice of the meeting but did not attend. When the student does not attend the meeting, the district must take other steps to ensure that the student's preferences and interests are considered with regard to the transition issues. In this case, the student's preferences and interests were considered through vocational evaluation results, previous conversations between the student and staff, and from a list of interests developed by the student. The student's preferences and interests were described in the IEP, and the courses of study and some of the job shadowing opportunities reflect these interests. Thus, the department concludes that the district met the requirement regarding IEP team consideration of the student's preference and interests.
In their complaint to the department, the parents requested that the use of communication devices and all but one of the transition activities be removed from the IEP. The IEP team must consider the communication needs of the child, and whether the child requires assistive technology devices and services. The current IEP that was developed November 20, 2003, is supported by child specific information. The department concludes that the IEP team followed required procedures and reached an individualized determination regarding the student's communication needs.
The IEP team also properly determined transition services. Transition services are defined as a coordinated set of activities for a student designed within an outcome-oriented process that promotes movement from school to post-school activities. The Individual Transition Plan provided for in the IEP includes opportunities for work experiences, job shadowing, and mentoring. Although the transition plan did not include the type of employment envisioned by the parents, the IEP team participants did properly determine transition services by providing experiences which would enable the student to better formulate post-school employment goals and gain some limited work experience. In developing the student's transition plan, the IEP team also determined that there were other goals which, although not directly related to employment, were necessary for a successful post-school transition. This plan reflects a coordinated set of activities, and the district remains prepared to continue to provide services until the student is 21. The department concludes that the IEP team followed the required procedures and reached an individualized determination regarding the student's transition needs, which were reasonably supported by student-specific data.
The parents further contend that the agency with which the district contracted has not provided certain transition services. Although the agency has not provided employment for the student, this is not required by the student's IEP. The agency, consistent with the IEP, has provided some job shadowing experiences, and the student has chosen not to attend all of those offered. The IEP also requires that the agency provide mentoring experience prior to June, 2004. The department has been informed by district staff that the agency has recently arranged mentoring which will soon be available. Thus, there is no evidence that the contracted agency has failed to provide services required by the IEP.
Finally, districts are required to provide to the parents a notice of placement along with a copy of the IEP prior to implementation. The parent states that she did not receive a copy of the IEP until after she contacted the district. On December, 4, 2003, the district mailed to the parent a copy of the IEP that was developed at the November 20, 2003, meeting with notice of placement. However, the implementation date of the IEP was also December 4, 2003. Thus, the parent was not provided notice prior to implementation. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district is directed to develop a corrective action plan to ensure that parents of students with disabilities are provided with proper written notice of placement and a copy of the IEP prior to implementation. No child-specific action is required because the parents did receive notice shortly after the implementation date.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 3/12/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy