IDEA Complaint Decision 07-022

On March 12, 2007, 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 relate to the 2006-2007 school year and are identified below.

  • Whether the district properly determined the student’s postsecondary goals.

The annual individualized education program (IEP) for the student was conducted during three meetings: November 6, November 14, and November 29, 2006. The parent attended all three meetings. The district stated in its written response that a final draft of the IEP was emailed to the parent on December 18, 2006. The parent emailed back on January 5, 2007, stating she had nothing to add at that time. The district sent out the final copy of the IEP in January 2007. The district explained that over the holiday break, some of the district forms changed to incorporate federal regulation changes which became effective on October 14, 2006. The district changed its forms from what was initially emailed to the parent in December to what the parent received in the mail in January 2007 to meet federal requirements.

Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the student turns 14 and updated annually, the IEP must include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training or education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills. The district must invite a student with a disability to attend the student’s IEP team meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the student and the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals. If the child does not attend the IEP team meeting, the district must take other steps to ensure that the student’s preferences and interests are considered.

On the district’s November 2006 IEP under Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (I-9), the item “What is the student’s desired post school outcome?” was left blank. However, the IEP does include the form titled IEP: Transition Services (I-12) which describes transition services in detail. The measurable postsecondary goal listed under Training/Education and Employment states: “[The student] will be able to hold a part-time supported employment job in a community setting utilizing categorizing or sorting skills, and have limited customer interaction.” This identifies a post-school outcome. Since the law does not require the IEP team to include information under one component of the student’s IEP if that is already contained under another component, the department concludes the district properly determined the student’s postsecondary goals.

  • Whether the district properly determined and documented whether the goals are based on age-appropriate transition assessments.

There was no written documentation in the November 2006 IEP to indicate whether the goals were based on age-appropriate transition assessments. This was a requirement added with the final federal regulations that went into effect on October 14, 2006. While the district has used formal vocational assessments in March 2006 as well as daily informal vocational assessments, the district acknowledges it was neither specifically addressed nor documented in the November 2006 IEP.

  • Whether the district properly documented whether other agencies would provide or pay for transition services.

To the extent appropriate, with the consent of the parents or a student who has reached the age of majority, the public agency must invite a representative of any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services. The district acknowledges that the question ‘Will other agencies likely be involved in providing or paying for any transition services?’ on the district’s IEP form of the final November 2006 IEP was neither discussed nor addressed at the November 2006 meeting.

The district contends at the time of the November IEP team meetings, there were no potential agencies that would be responsible for providing or paying for transition services. Therefore, no outside agency representative was invited to attend the meeting and the item should have been marked “No.” The district acknowledges this requirement was not on the district’s form at the time of the meeting.

  • Whether the district properly developed needed employment transition services.

Listed on the district’s IEP form titled IEP: Transition Services (I-12), were needed transition services that included instruction, employment, post school adult living, daily living, community experiences, functional vocational assessment, and related services. These services include target dates for completion and persons responsible for implementation. According to interviews with district providers, the services were developed based upon the student’s interests, preferences and parent input since the student did not attend any of the meetings. Specifically, the services were designed to take into account the student’s need for movement and variety. While the parent expressed a desire to have the student receive longer shifts at his work sites, after discussion at the meeting, it was decided that the longer shifts would not best meet the student’s individual needs. The department concludes the district properly developed needed employment transition services.

  • Whether the district properly determined and documented when periodic reports of the student’s progress toward meeting annual goals are to be provided.

The IEP must include a description of when periodic reports on the progress the student is making toward meeting the annual goals will be provided. Under each of the three goals, the IEP lists charting, observation and ongoing assessment as the procedures for measuring progress toward each annual goal. The notification of progress toward meeting each annual goal is stated as: “For [all] students served at the middle or high school level, it is done at the end of each semester. The student has six grading periods where progress information is shared with the parents.

In addition, the district informs the parents of the student’s progress via the daily exchange of communication notebooks and weekly reports on the student’s daily work experiences. The department concludes that the district properly determined and documented when periodic reports of the student’s progress toward meeting annual goals are to be provided.”

  • Whether the district developed measurable goals for increasing the student’s community independence and for increasing employability skills.

The district acknowledges that the goals for increasing community independence and employability skills are not written in a measurable manner. The department concludes that the district did not develop measurable goals for increasing the student’s independence and for increasing employability skills.

  • Whether the district properly determined the student’s participation in extracurricular and nonacademic activities.

The parent alleges there was no discussion as to, “Will the student be able to participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities?” at any of the IEP team meetings and the IEP did not contain any statements that make any involvement on the student’s part possible on the district’s form titled IEP: Program Summary (I-14) under Section IV. The IEP lists ‘yes’ as the answer to this question. The district contends there was discussion and determination at the IEP team meeting, and the IEP, under Section III for supplemental aids and supports, lists the type of support as “visual aids and/or social stories.” The IEP lists the location as “across all school related settings and work experience” and the frequency as “for all new routines and activities to sequence and learn new tasks and activities.” The department concludes the district properly determined the student’s participation in extracurricular and nonacademic activities.

  • Whether the district properly determined and documented the student’s need for transportation services.

Related services includes transportation when required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. Transportation includes travel to and from school and between schools, as well as travel in and around school buildings. A previous complaint filed against the district concerns transportation relating to the provision of the required hours of instruction. The district, beginning with the 2006-2007 school year, made adjustments with the contracted transportation carrier for a safe dismissal of the student at the regular school dismissal time. The November 2006 IEP lists transportation as a related service for to and from school.

The parent alleges the information on the IEP does not reflect the fact that she, by choice, transports the student to the school in the morning. The IEP reflects the transportation services the IEP team determined to be appropriate to meet the student’s needs. The mother has voluntarily decided to bring her child to school. The district recognizes its responsibility to provide this service and should the parent decide to discontinue the morning transportation, the district remains prepared to offer the transportation services as listed on the IEP. The department concludes that the district properly determined and documented the student’s need for transportation services.

  • Whether the district properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding work experience services and on-the-job training.

A previous complaint addressed the parent’s request that the student receive community-based work experiences on a daily basis. District staff during an IEP meeting determined that fewer times per week was appropriate for the student because of the student’s individual 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.

In the November 2006 IEP, the district contends that the services listed for on the job training and work experience listed in student’s IEP is intended to address all work experiences, whether these are paid work experience or volunteer opportunities. According to district interviews, the work experience teacher provides services three days per week and the classroom teacher provides services two days a week. The district will clarify this by using only the work experience language to avoid further misunderstanding when the IEP team meets again. The department concludes that the district properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding work experience services and on-the-job training.

Within thirty days, the district must reconvene the IEP team to address the following issues:

  • Determining and documenting whether the goals were based on age-appropriate transition assessments;
  • Documenting whether other agencies would provide or pay for transition services; and
  • Developing measurable goals for increasing the student’s independence and for increasing employability skills.

The district must also submit a copy of the completed IEP to the department within 14 days of the date the IEP team meeting was held.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 5/10/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/tag

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