On July 13, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WDOC). This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues are addressed below:
- Whether the WDOC, during the 2006-2007 school year, improperly provided special education services to students whose parents did not consent to the provision of special education services.
The issue statement originally related to teacher licensing requirements. Based on information gathered during the investigation, the department clarified the issue as stated above. The complainant alleged and our investigation confirmed that teachers licensed to provide special education only were providing instruction to regular education students. Because these teachers were licensed to provide special education only, the department presumes they were providing special education services. WDOC had not obtained consent for the provision of special education to these regular education students. The department concludes the WDOC improperly provided special education services to regular education students whose parents did not consent to the provision of special education services. The department will work with WDOC to ensure that students whose parents did not consent to the provision of special education services do not receive such service.
- Whether the WDOC, during the 2006-2007 school year, ensured that an individualized education program (IEP) team properly determined services for a student in June 2007.
An IEP team meeting was held for a student on June 11, 2007, and concluded on June 14, 2007, for the purposes of evaluation including determination of eligibility, annual IEP development, development of transition goals and services, and placement. The evaluation report and determination of eligibility included an initial eligibility for cognitive disability and speech and language and reevaluation for a specific learning disability. All but one of the IEP team members indicated in writing their agreement with the cognitive disability and speech and language eligibility determination. One member signed her disagreement with the cognitive disability determination and submitted a separate statement with her conclusions to maintain the specific learning disabilities determination. The Local Education Agency (LEA) representative concluded that the students areas of impairment were cognitive disabilities and speech and language. The complainant alleged that the LEA representative did not have the authority to make the final determination when there was disagreement at the IEP team meeting and believed that the IEP team should have made the decision.
The IEP team should work toward consensus, but the local education agency has the ultimate responsibility to make decisions necessary to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) when consensus cannot be reached. The LEA representative acted appropriately in making the final determination of the disability areas. The WDOC ensured that an IEP team properly determined services for a student in June 2007.
- Whether the WDOC, during the 2006-2007 school year, properly provided required speech and language services to students during the period December 2006 to May 2007.
The complainant alleges that no speech and language services were provided when the speech and language pathologist was on a medical leave from December 1, 2006, through May 31, 2007. According to the WDOC records, during this time period the speech and language pathologist was absent 30 full days and 6 partial days. During the 2006-2007 school year, WDOC contracted a speech and language pathologist to provide speech and language services from February 17- April 28, 2007. Based upon this information, WDOC did not contract for speech and language services for approximately 17 full days and 5 partial days from December 1, 2006, through February 16, 2007, and from April 29, 2007, through May 31, 2007. The WDOC did not properly provide the required speech and language services to students during the period from December 2006 through May 2007. WDOC must conduct an IEP team meeting for students who did not receive required service delivery during these time periods to determine whether additional service is required. Within thirty days of receiving this decision, the WDOC will submit proposed corrective action to ensure that when speech and language pathologists are absent required services are provided. The WDOC will also submit to the department a copy of the completed IEPs developed for each student, including a cover page that shows who participated at this meeting, and establish and submit a plan for providing needed speech and language services that may be needed to the students as a result of the determination at the IEP team meeting.
- Whether the WDOC, during the 2006-2007 school year, properly implemented a students IEP regarding participation in regular education classes.
An LEA must ensure that all services specified in a childs IEP are provided. According to the IEP, the student is to be in regular education each period of each week except for one 45 minute period daily for instruction designed to help the student increase his survival skills and independent living skills with the goal of successfully transitioning him to the age of majority status in the community. The student also receives speech and language services outside the regular classroom for one 45 minute period daily. The amount and frequency of these special education services was implemented as written. The department concludes that WDOC properly implemented a students IEP regarding participation in regular education classes.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 10/2/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy