On April 13, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Green Bay Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2005-2006 school year, properly:
- Invited and included the required individualized education program (IEP) participants;
- Responded to a parent request for information;
- Responded to a parent request for an evaluation;
- Considered a parent request regarding the amount of time provided for a work site/community experience and student use of e-mail;
- Described the student’s present levels of performance;
- Provided the required hours of instruction; and
- Developed a life-skills program to meet the student’s needs.
The parent requested a representative of an outside agency that conducted a formal vocational evaluation be invited to attend the March 30, 2006, IEP meeting in order to discuss results. The representative was contacted, invited, and attended the meeting. The parent further wanted the county case manager to attend the October and November 2005 IEP meetings. The parent contacted the county case manger, but she was unable to attend the meetings. The parent did not request that the district reschedule the meeting in order to ensure that the county case manager could attend. The district invited and included required IEP participants.
The district also properly responded to the parent’s requests for information. The parent asked that the student be videotaped at the worksites in order to assess his job performance. The district believed that video taping was unnecessary because the student’s job performance is recorded daily through check lists. Videotaping is not required by the student’s IEP. The parent also asked for a list of work experience sites available to the student. Although the district did not maintain a list with this information, the district contacted all of the teachers that supervised worksites, and asked them to make a list. The district provided the parent with this information when the list was completed.
The district was also responsive to the parent’s request for an evaluation. The parent contacted the district in October stating there was a need for further assessment in the vocational area. District staff explained the difference between a formal evaluation and a more functional evaluation, and that they believed a functional evaluation at the worksite would be preferable. District staff further told the parent that they would visit the work site. After the worksite visit, district staff contacted the parent and stated that the worksite observation supported the need for a functional assessment. However, the parent requested that a formal evaluation be conducted by an outside agency. The parent was given contact information for an outside agency and, in December, the outside agency denied the request. In February, the parent was provided with contact information for other agencies, and an evaluation was conducted in March, during spring break, and the district paid for the evaluation. The parent preferred that the evaluation be conducted during spring break because it allowed for the student to take the evaluation without missing any school. The parent further states that an assessment should have been conducted through the life skills vocational course offered through the district. Although a career assessment and evaluation is listed as a component of the course, it does not specify or require that a formal vocational evaluation occur.
At the November 2005 IEP meeting, the parent requested that the student receive community-based work experience five times per week. District staff, during the IEP team meeting, did not agree to five times per week, and a consensus was not reached. The parent also made this request during the March 30th IEP meeting, and again a consensus was not reached. District staff determined that fewer times per week was appropriate for the student because of the student’s sensory needs, his needs for other services provided at the school, to provide time for staff to work on his IEP goals, and to allow for peer interactions and opportunities, and therefore denied the parent’s request.
The IEP team should work toward consensus, but the school district has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the IEP includes the services that the child needs in order to receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE). If consensus is not reached, the school district must provide the parents with notice of its determination. The district staff, in this case, considered child specific information in developing a program that met the student’s needs. However, although notice of the district’s denial of the parent request was provided after the March meeting, it was not provided after the November meeting. Within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district must submit a corrective plan to ensure that this notice is consistently provided.
The parent is also concerned that the student’s present levels of performance have not significantly changed over a four-year period. The IEP team reviewed the student’s present levels of performance at each annual review of the IEP and, in doing so, considered the strengths and needs of the students including how the child’s disability affected his involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. Changes to the present levels of performance were made based on this review. The district properly developed the student’s present levels of performance.
The student’s bus departs between 10-15 minutes before the other busses, and consequently he is released from school earlier than other students. Although the student’s IEP specifies that he should arrive at school at least 5 minutes before start time, the early release is not noted in the student’s IEP, and there is no indication that it was discussed during the IEP meetings, as required. Therefore, the IEP team must meet prior to the next school year to determine whether this modification in schedule is appropriate for this student; and the district, following the meeting, must submit documentation to the department demonstrating that this issue was considered. The district must also, within 30 days, develop a corrective action plan to ensure that schedule modifications for all students with disabilities are addressed through the IEP process.
Finally, the IEP team properly developed a life-skills program. The IEP team considered child specific information, including post-school interests, and the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and then developed the program based on the student’s needs.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST/SJP 6/12/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy