On February 13, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Mauston School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which relate to the 2006-2007 school year, are identified below.
- Whether the district properly implemented a student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding speech and language services.
An IEP team meeting was held on June 1, 2006, for the purpose of determining continued eligibility for special education, developing an annual IEP, considering transition services, and determining continued placement. Special education services listed speech and language for 60 minutes weekly in the speech room and functional, vocational, and leisure time skills curriculum for 6.5 hours daily in the special education classroom and community.
In October of 2006, the district notified the parents by letter of a change in speech and language staffing in the school district. The speech language pathologist serving the student was out on an extended medical leave. The letter stated that in spite of extensive local, state, and national searches, the district had not yet located a replacement. The letter also stated it was the district's intent to provide services on a "prorated basis" with the current available speech language pathologists. If the district was not able to provide the required amount of service as listed on the student's IEP, the district would offer compensatory services during the summer of 2007. The student did not receive speech and language services until October 2006 for the 2006-2007 school year. Once started, the district provided some services, but not the amount stated in the IEP. The department concludes that the district did not properly implement the students IEP regarding speech and language services.
- Whether the district properly responded to the parent's request to involve the student's foster parent in IEP team meetings in January and February 2007, although they improperly included the foster parents in earlier meetings.
An IEP team meeting was originally scheduled for January 26, 2007. The complainant alleges that the mother had communicated with the foster parents several times and that the mother wanted the foster parents to participate in IEP team meetings. The district had incorrectly involved the foster parents in prior IEP team meetings because they were unaware that the biological mother retained parental rights. On January 16, 2007 the district became aware that while the student lives with foster parents, the biological mother of the student retained her parental rights. In response to the biological mother's request to also include the foster parents, the district sent a release of information form dated January 16, 2007, to her to enable the foster parents to participate in future IEP team meetings.
By the January 26 meeting date, the district had not received the signed release from the mother. The IEP team meeting was then rescheduled to January 30, 2007. The release form had not yet been received as of the January 30 meeting. The meeting was rescheduled to February 12, 2007. Both the biological mother and the foster parents were in attendance at the IEP team meeting held on February 12, 2007. The department concludes that the district properly responded to the parents request to involve the student's foster parents.
- Whether the district properly involved the parent in IEP team meetings in January and February 2007.
Each public agency must take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. An IEP team meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if three attempts to involve the parent have occurred and been documented. The district provided documentation of their efforts to afford the parent the opportunity to participate and the parent did participate in the February meeting. The department concludes that the district properly responded to the parent's request to involve the student's parent in the IEP team meetings scheduled.
- Whether the district properly determined the amount of speech and language services to be provided to the student after February 12, 2007.
The IEP team meeting held on February 12, 2007, was for the purpose of reviewing, revising, and updating the IEP to review progress towards the students annual speech and language goals. The IEP team concurred that the student had demonstrated some regression in his communication skills during the first semester of the school year. The IEP team reduced the students time from 60 minutes weekly to 30 minutes weekly based upon staff availability rather than the students individual needs. The IEP states "speech and language therapy services are currently reduced to 30 minutes weekly due to staff constraints."
Federal and state special education law provide that the IEP must contain a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to meet the individual students needs. The amount, frequency, and duration of special education and related services may not be reduced based on the availability of personnel. The department concludes that the district did not properly determine the amount of speech and language services to be provided to the student after February 12, 2007.
Within 30 days, the district must develop and submit to the department a corrective action plan for approval that contains the following directives:
- The IEP team must reconvene within 30 days to develop a statement of the amount, frequency and duration of special education and related services that need to be provided based on students individual educational needs, not the availability of staff.
- The IEP team must also determine the amount of additional services the student needs as a result of the districts failure to provide the required services.
- The district must within 15 days following the IEP team meeting, submit a proposed corrective action plan to provide those services as well as a copy of the completed IEP to the department for review. The department will continue to work with the district regarding the district-wide corrective action through a previously issued complaint decision.
- The district must also ensure that district staff are knowledgeable regarding when and how a foster parent may participate in the IEP team process.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy