IDEA Complaint Decision 05-009

On February 21, 2005, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are identified and addressed below.

  • Whether the district developed annual goals and short term objectives for a child with a disability for the 2004-2005 school year based on the student's individual needs.

On February 5, 2004, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held to determine continuing eligibility, develop an annual IEP and determine placement for a fifth grade student with a disability. The student's parents attended the meeting. This IEP was in effect between February 6, 2004, and February 4, 2005. Required components of an IEP include a statement of the student's present levels of educational performance and measurable annual goals including benchmarks or short-term objectives related to meeting the student's needs that result from the student's disability to enable the student to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum, and to meeting each of the student's other educational needs that result from the student's disability.

The present level of educational performance in the student's IEP developed in February 2004 includes baseline information for reading, language arts, and spelling. The IEP includes information describing significant differences between the student's measured verbal and nonverbal abilities. The student's behavior in math class is described and the evaluation report identifies the student's math performance level. The two IEP goals relate to increasing reading, language arts and spelling skills. The IEP provides baseline information that corresponds to the two annual goals and the goals are based on the student's individual needs.

On February 3, 2005, an IEP team meeting was held to develop an annual IEP and determine continuing placement for the student. The student's parents attended the meeting. This IEP was projected to be in effect between February 4, 2005, and February 3, 2006. The student's present level of educational performance reports improvement in reading and language arts and describes the student's functioning level. The student's math performance also reports improvement and notes a performance level. The student's cognitive processing and classroom behavior are described. The two IEP goals are that the student will increase reading and language arts skills to a specified level which is above the present level of performance. The IEP provides baseline information that corresponds to the two annual goals which are based on the student's individual needs. The district met requirements related to statements of annual goals and short term objectives.

  • Whether the district implemented the student's individualized education program (IEP) during the 2004-2005 school year regarding modifying assignments.

The IEP in effect between February 6, 2004, and February 4, 2005, stated the student will receive special education instructional services that include "monitoring and modifications for all subject areas if needed, weekly minimum of 20 minutes." Supplementary aids and services stated the student will receive "repeat/clarify directions, modify assignments, and preferential seating (daily when in class); assistance with reading, allow additional time to finish work, keep parents notified of progress or changes (when reading interferes with progress); all math tests given with question, prompts, breaks (each math test/quiz)." The February 3, 2005, IEP states the student will receive special education instructional services that include reading, language arts and math - LD Support (3 periods per day), social studies and science - LD teacher available (2 periods per day), reading and English (2 periods per day), math, social studies, science and electives (minimum 4 periods per day). Supplementary aids and services state the student will receive "repeat/clarify directions, modify assignments and tests, preferential seating, assistance with reading, extended time for assignments and tests, modified grades, and availability of resource room for tests and individualized help, daily progress report, shorten assignments, access to locker during the day (daily for all class periods)."

A district must provide special education and supplementary aids and services to a child with a disability in accordance with the child's IEP. The services must be stated in the IEP in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in the development and implementation of the IEP. The IEP written on February 5, 2004, for special education instructional services, "monitoring and modifications for all subject areas if needed, weekly minimum of 20 minutes" does not meet these requirements. The term "as needed" contained in the February 5, 2004, IEP does not clearly define the circumstances under which the child will receive monitoring and modifications for all subject areas. The term "available" contained in the February 3, 2005, IEP, even when coupled with "2 periods per day," does not properly identify the amount of special education services which will be provided. The district acknowledges that the provisions regarding modifying assignments and grades were not implemented by some staff.

On March 17 and April 5, 2005, IEP team meetings were held to complete the student's annual IEP. The district must submit to the department a copy of the student's completed IEP to ensure the special education and supplementary aids and services for modifying assignments and grades are stated in the IEP in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in the development and implementation of the IEP. The district must also ensure that all special education staff members understand how to define and write the frequency and amount of services specified in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in both the development and the implementation of the IEP. By June 1, 2005, the district must send to the department a written assurance that training activities for these requirements have been provided to special education staff members.

  • Whether the district properly notified the parent of the purpose of a February 2005 IEP team meeting and who would attend.

A district must notify parents of the purpose, time, and location of IEP team meetings and who is expected to attend. A January 27, 2005, written invitation was sent to the parents notifying them that an IEP team meeting was scheduled to be held February 3 to develop an annual IEP and determine placement for the student. The assistant principal of the child's school was not listed as a participant on the written invitation. The child's parents requested several days in advance of the meeting that the assistant principal participate in the meeting. The assistant principal was not at the IEP team meeting when it started on February 3. The student's parents again requested that the assistant principal attend the meeting. The assistant principal joined the meeting and participated as the local education agency (LEA) representative. It is permissible for a district to ask a parent at a meeting whether they agree that additional people may attend an IEP team meeting. The parent requested and agreed that the assistant principal participate in the meeting.

  • Whether the district provided the parent with notice of changes to the IEP following the February 2005 meeting.

On February 3, 2005, an IEP team meeting was held to develop an annual IEP and determine continuing placement for the student. The student's parents attended the IEP team meeting. The student's annual IEP was in effect between February 6, 2004, and February 4, 2005. The February 3, 2005, IEP team meeting was adjourned before the IEP and placement were completed. The LEA must give the parents a copy of the student's IEP with the notice of placement notice before the IEP is implemented. The parent was not provided a copy of the February 3, 2005, IEP document because the team did not complete the IEP. On February 21 the student's parents went to the student's school and obtained a copy of the incomplete IEP from the assistant principal. Because the February 3, 2005, IEP team did not determine the student's continuing placement to be in effect after February 4, 2005, the student did not have goals and short term objectives in effect. The district will ensure that staff at the child's school understand that each student's IEP must be reviewed and, if appropriate, revised at least annually, that the child's placement is determined at least annually, and parents receive written notice of the IEP and placement prior to implementation.

A different IEP team held an IEP team meeting on March 17, 2005, to develop an annual IEP, determine placement and conduct a functional behavior assessment. The March 17 IEP team adjourned and reconvened on March 21, 2005. The March 17 IEP team meeting did not complete the child's 2005-2006 annual IEP but issued a March 17 notice of placement. On March 21 and April 5, 2005, IEP team meetings were held to revise the student's IEP, determine placement and conduct a functional behavior assessment. After the April 5 IEP team meeting the parent was given a copy of the student's IEP and a notice of placement. By May 20, 2005, the district must send to the department a copy of the student's March 21, 2005, IEP with placement notice and documentation showing that the parents were provided a copy of the student's current IEP with placement notice.

This concludes our review of this complaint

.

//signed CST/SJP 4/20/05
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jfd

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