On March 24, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Palmyra-Eagle School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district:
- during the 2003-2004 school year, implemented the student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding a life skills class, and
- whether the district, in developing an IEP in December 2003, properly considered the parent's concerns for enhancing the education of her child.
In September 2003, the district adopted an IEP developed on February 25, 2003, by another school district. This IEP, which was to be in effect until February 25, 2004, provides that the student is to receive special education services of "EBD life skills" 245 minutes per week. The IEP covers portions of the student's seventh and eighth grade school years. The explanation of the extent to which the student will not participate in the general curriculum includes a list of courses the student would take in seventh grade and a list of courses the student would take in eighth grade. The IEP indicates that "life skills" would be taken only in seventh grade.
At a meeting on September 12, 2003, the parent expressed concern to school staff that her son was not receiving the life skills course. In response to the parent's concern, school staff contacted the staff in the district where the IEP was developed to better understand the content of the EBD life skills course and confirmed that the course was to be provided only in seventh grade. Beginning in September 2003, the district special education teacher provided instruction in social skills on a daily basis in combination with language arts instruction, homeroom, and during discussions with the student before school and after the lunch period in order to address behavior goals specified in the IEP.
A district must provide special education and related services to a child with a disability in accordance with the child's IEP. The IEP must be sufficiently clear so that staff and parents understand the commitment of district resources. However, the IEP team is not required to include information under one component of a child's IEP that is already contained under another component of the IEP. The duration of the EBD life skills course may have been clearer to the parent if it had been specified as part of the statement of special education services as opposed to the description of extent to which the student will not participate in the general curriculum. The IEP as a whole is sufficiently clear. At the December 5, 2003, IEP meeting, the statement of special education services was further clarified to reflect direct instruction in social skills, five class periods per week.
Prior to the December 5, 2003, IEP meeting, the parent was asked to complete the district's Parent Input Sheet to express her feelings and concerns regarding her child's special education program. This information was considered when the IEP team met for its annual review of the student's IEP, which the parent attended. During the IEP meeting, school staff asked the parent about her concerns. The IEP team then addressed the parent's concerns in the context of the IEP process by including goals in the IEP that addressed the parent's concerns, specifically goals on telling time, money management, and behavior. In developing each child's IEP, the IEP team must consider the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child. District staff considered the parent's concerns in developing their child's IEP.
This concludes our review of this complaint which we are closing.
//signed CST 5/19/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy