On June 22, 2005, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Sheboygan Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2004-2005 school year:
- properly responded to a parent request for a reevaluation of her child and for individualized education program (IEP) team meetings beginning in January 2005;
- implemented the student's IEP regarding provision of supplementary aids and services in regular education classes;
- in February 2005 properly determined placement of the student in a homebound program; and
- in January and February 2005 improperly excluded the student from school and did not implement the student's IEP.
In November 2004, the parent requested a reevaluation of her child. On January 4, 7, and 10, 2005, the parent requested an IEP team meeting to review her child's current IEP. On March 15, an IEP team meeting was held, but ended abruptly due to staff comments which the parent found offensive. On March 18, the special education director held an informal meeting including the parent and social worker to discuss unresolved IEP issues, formation of a new IEP team, and review of existing data for a reevaluation. On April 4 the Notices of Reevaluation and Request for Consent for Additional Tests were sent to the parent.
A district must conduct an evaluation in response to a parent request. The law also requires a district to hold IEP team meetings periodically to review a child's IEP, but not less than annually. Parents may request an IEP meeting at any time. A district should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP meeting. If the district does not grant the request for an IEP meeting, it must provide written notice to the parent including an explanation of why the district has determined an IEP meeting is not needed.
The district did not properly respond to the parent's November 2004 request for a reevaluation until April 4, 2005. The district did not properly respond to the parent's request in January 2005 to convene an IEP team meeting until March 15. The district must submit to the department within 30 days of the date of this decision a corrective action plan to ensure that special education staff have knowledge of, and properly apply, the procedures for responding to parent requests for evaluations and IEP team meetings.
The parent alleges specific supplementary aids and services in the October 20, 2003, IEP were not implemented in the regular education classroom beginning in the fall of 2004. The parent stated the following supplementary aids and services were not implemented: "shorten assignments/assign selected parts/reduce copying tasks, use of word processing system, frequent positive reinforcement." The special education teacher stated the child's reading and writing assignments were modified and shortened as were all other subject areas in the regular classroom. She maintains the child used a computer for completing assignments at the beginning of his fifth grade year, and had a computer to be used for all written expression in the regular classroom. Regarding frequent positive reinforcement, the special education teacher stated positive behavior interventions, strategies, and supports were all in place, which included praise for appropriate behavior in the regular classroom. She also states that collaboration between the regular and special education teachers occurred on a frequent basis. The district implemented the IEP regarding the supplementary aids and services in the regular education classroom.
The parent alleges the district did not properly determine a homebound placement, and therefore, did not ensure that her child received appropriate services during January and February. The child did not attend school during the months of January and February. On February 3, the parent stated the district called to inform her that her child would be receiving homebound instruction. The district stated the parent kept her child home due to a change in his medicine which caused him to fall asleep during the day. The district requested medical information from the parent, which it did not receive until June 6. The district did not convene an IEP team meeting to determine a change in placement because the parent did not provide them with the medical information. The elementary school personnel did not pursue other procedures, including school attendance requirements, to ensure the student received instruction. The district did provide a home tutor beginning on February 9. The tutor indicated he met with the child one time and attempted to meet on several other occasions, but the parent cancelled the other sessions.
A district must ensure that a child with a disability who cannot go to school because of medical needs receives appropriate instruction. The district should have promptly convened an IEP team meeting to review the child's educational placement. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department a corrective action plan to ensure that staff know how to respond properly when a child is not attending school due to medical needs.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 8/22/05
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy