IDEA Complaint Decision 07-041

On May 29, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Peshtigo School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2006-2007 school year:

  • Properly included the parent in a June 2006 individualized education program (IEP) team meeting;
  • Properly wrote a student’s IEP during an IEP team meeting;
  • Properly included the parent in the decision to change the child’s placement;
  • Properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding supplementary aids and services;
  • Properly obtained required parental consent when accessing public medical assistance benefits;
  • Properly determined a plan for the student to transition back into the classroom after a month-long medical absence; and
  • Properly invited required members to an IEP team meeting.

The parent contends the district did not properly include him in a June 7, 2006, IEP team meeting. On May 18, 2006, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP and the parents attended. At the IEP team meeting, participants agreed to reconvene another meeting to complete the development of the student’s IEP. On May 23, the district sent a written notice of invitation to the parents for a June 7 IEP team meeting. The parent requested postponement of the June 7 meeting less than two days prior to the meeting. On June 5 and 6, the parent and the district attorneys, acting on behalf of their clients, engaged in discussion via email regarding a change in the meeting date. The parties were not able to mutually agree upon a time for the IEP team meeting. The district made attempts via a written invitation and emails to ensure the parents had an opportunity to attend the June 7 IEP team meeting. On June 7, 2006, an IEP team met to discuss extending the duration of the current IEP to the beginning of the school year and the parents did not attend. No changes were made to the IEP. An IEP team meeting was held on September 5, 2006, to complete the IEP and the parents attended the meeting. The IEP team also met on October 16, and the parents attended the meeting. The district properly ensured the parents had an opportunity to participate in a mutually agreed upon time IEP team meeting.

The parent states the child’s IEP was not written properly at the September 5, 2006, IEP team meeting. He claims the staff came to the IEP team meeting with a prepared copy of the IEP goals and the present level of academic and achievement and functional performance and did not share it with him prior to the IEP team meeting. The district staff state they came to the September 5, 2006, IEP team meeting with a rough draft copy of some proposed goals, which was carried over from the previous May 18 and June 7 IEP meetings. The IEP team meeting was facilitated by a Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System facilitator. While it is not permissible for a district to have the final IEP completed before an IEP team meeting begins, staff may prepare a draft IEP for use during an IEP team meeting. In this case, the district staff came to the IEP team meeting with a rough draft of some proposed goals to be used for discussion.

The parent also alleges the district did not include him in the decision to change the child’s placement at the February 14, 2007, IEP team meeting. At the February 14 IEP team meeting, district staff proposed the student be placed in an on-line English course rather than the regular education English classroom. The parents attended the IEP team meeting and were included in the discussion regarding the proposed change. The student remained in the regular education English class and continued to receive accommodations as identified in the then-current IEP. The child’s placement was not changed.

The parent asserts supplementary aids and services were not consistently implemented in the English and algebra classes as indicated in his child’s September 5 and October 16, 2006, IEPs. During the school year, the parent sent many emails to the district administration and staff which described the specific aids and services not provided by staff members. The parent also stated he made classroom observations and his child reported that he did not receive services consistently. Specifically, the parent alleges the following supplemental aids and services were not provided in the English class on a consistent basis: “teacher to highlight relevant material including key concept, vocabulary and material likely to be tested; time management assignment notebook or palm pilot checked by teacher and monitor his use of the schedule; review with student his assignments; preview material will be provided at least one day prior to material being covered in class; oral and visual preview of the English quiz and test; and monitor for understanding of directions." The parent also alleges the following aids and services were not consistently provided in algebra class: "previewing materials provided at least one day prior to material covered in class" and "monitoring for understanding of directions." In a document submitted to the department, the district states all of the student’s teachers provided the required supplementary aids and services as indicated in the student’s IEPs. The director interviewed the teachers regarding their individual responsibilities for providing the student with supplementary aids and services, and reviewed the aide’s classroom notes, the student’s daily stress monitoring log, and the teacher’s grade record. At the beginning of the school year, the special education director distributed a supplementary aids and services summary sheet to the teachers who had IEP responsibilities. Department staff interviewed the English and algebra teachers responsible for providing supplementary aids and services to the student. Both teachers indicated the supplementary aids and services were provided by either the teacher or the teacher’s aide. The department concludes the district provided supplementary aids and services as required by the student’s IEP.

The parent alleges the district improperly submitted claims for School Based Services under Medicaid reimbursement for services provided to his child. The parents never gave consent to the district to submit claims to Medicaid. The district submitted claims to Medicaid on a monthly basis from October 2006 through February 2007. On October 13, 2006, the IDEA regulations were revised to require the district to obtain consent from the parent each time access to public benefits or insurance is sought. Prior to that time, consent to access public benefits was not required in either state or federal special education law. On February 1, 2007, the department provided districts with additional information about the new consent requirement. The district did not seek consent consistent with this requirement and did not properly obtain parental consent beginning in October 2006. The department will work with the district to ensure administrative staff properly understand this new requirement and with the Department of Health and Family services to ensure that all districts understand these requirements.

The parent asserts the district failed to develop a plan for the child to transition back into school classes after an approximate month-long medical absence. The district administration and staff understood the student would return to school after the medical absence. On April 30, May 2 and 3, 2007, the parent sent the district emails requesting an IEP team meeting to develop a plan for the child to transition back into school. On May 7 and 8, the district administrator responded via email to the parent stating he would meet with the parents. On May 18, an IEP team meeting was held to address the student’s transition back into school and the parents did attend. The IEP team determined the student would return to classes on May 23 and they developed a plan for the student to transition back into school. The district notified the parents to bring the student to school on May 23. Except for band and chorus, the parent did not bring the student to school for all classes. The district held an IEP team meeting and developed a plan for the student to transition back into school.

The parent contends the district did not invite the English teacher to the February 14, 2007, IEP team meeting. Federal and state laws require a district to include not less than one regular education teacher of the child as a member of the IEP team. At the February 14 IEP team meeting, the student’s algebra teacher participated on the IEP team as the regular education teacher. The district states the special education teacher had daily contact with the student’s English teacher and was able to address the student’s educational needs at the IEP team meeting. The district properly included the required IEP team members at the February 14 IEP team meeting.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/13/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/svb

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