On November 1, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Whitnall School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district:
- Implemented a student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding one-to-one assistance in October 2004;
- Properly suspended the student in October 2004; and during the 2004-2005 school year:
- Properly developed and implemented a behavior intervention plan (BIP) for the student; and
- Properly responded to parent requests to modify the student's IEP regarding the use of positive, tangible reinforcers; provision of sensory integration services and use of a weighted vest.
The student's IEP in effect for October 2004, requires 100% adult supervision. This was provided through the use of an aide, the child's special education teacher, and speech and language therapist. Staff interviewed stated the student was not left unattended at any time. When the student was in the time-out room and became physically aggressive, the staff member would stand or sit outside the room and supervise through the window. The student's IEP was implemented as required. The district also properly disciplined the student. In the beginning of November, the student received a four day suspension for escalating aggressive behavior, which was in accordance with district policy. This was the only disciplinary removal the student received during the 2004-2005 school year.
The parent's primary concern regarding the student's behavior implementation plan is the use of the time out room, which the parent states was used excessively, particularly in October 2004. The student has significant behavioral needs, and in spring 2004, the district received new information regarding the student's diagnosis. Consequently, because of this new information, the district hired an expert to assist in developing appropriate strategies to address the student's behavior. During the summer of 2004, the parent met with district staff and the expert to discuss behavioral needs and strategies. Based on the meeting, a new behavior plan was developed. The new plan was implemented when the student returned to school the beginning of September, but was not reviewed and adopted by the IEP team until September 24, 2004. The new plan should not have implemented prior to the IEP team meeting on September 24, 2004. No child specific corrective action is required because the plan was ultimately adopted by the IEP team. Further, the district has stated in its response to this complaint that if the parents believe that modifications to the plan are necessary, it will immediately reconvene the IEP team. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district must submit a correction action plan to the department to ensure that behavioral plans are adopted by an IEP team prior to implementation.
During October 2004, the student's aggressive behavior escalated and the time-out room was used more frequently. However, the department finds no evidence that the room was used contrary to the student's IEP or behavioral intervention plan. Finally, the district properly responded to the parent request for positive tangible reinforcers, provision of sensory integration services, and use of a weighted vest. The student's IEP dated June 3, 2004, which was in effect at the beginning of the school year provides for positive reinforcement and physical movement as a sensory integration strategy. District staff stated that they consistently used praise as a positive reinforcement. Although district staff stated that the parent would have liked them to use food more as a positive reinforcer, praise was effective, and food was sometimes used. The student was taken on walks and to the playground, gym, and occupational therapy room for sensory integration. Carrying heavy items and dancing were other techniques used. District staff tried using a weighted vest but found it distracting to the student. The student's most recent IEP dated November 4, 2004, also provides for positive reinforcement and physical movement.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed 1/3/05 by SJP
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy