IDEA Complaint Decision 08-005

On January 10, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wauwatosa School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are listed below.

An individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held for a student on June 2, 2006, with an IEP start date of June 2, 2006, and ending on June 1, 2007. An IEP team meeting was held on March 13, 2007. The resulting IEP was in effect until March 12, 2008. The purpose of both IEP team meetings included evaluation, determination of eligibility, development of a transition statement, development of an IEP and determination of placement. Both parents and the student attended each meeting.

  • Whether the district, between January 10, 2007, and June 15, 2007, implemented the student’s IEP regarding placement in a non-distracting math classroom and the use of an AlphaSmart, a tape recorder, and catheterization assistance; and
  • Whether the district, between January 10, 2007, and June 15, 2007, ensured the student properly participated in math class.

The March 2007 IEP indicated the student uses a personal recorder to record lectures and class discussions so he can review the discussion and internalize concepts. Interviews with district staff indicate the student had access to both the AlphaSmart and the tape recorder during the second semester of the 2006-2007 school year. Both IEPs stated the student “uses an AlphaSmart in some of his classes to assist him in the writing process.” The student required many reminders to use the AlphaSmart. The tape recorder was utilized in some of the student’s classes. The first AlphaSmart provided required the student move to another room to retrieve materials from the printer. The district purchased a new AlphaSmart on February 26, 2008, as a replacement. This device has improved technology to allow the student to retrieve print materials in the same location. An assistive technology evaluation is scheduled for March 10, 2008.

The June 2006 IEP indicates as part of his special education services that staff will assist him two times daily in a private bathroom for approximately 10-15 minutes, while the March 2007 IEP stated “at least one time daily in a private bathroom for approximately 10-15 minutes, two times daily scheduled bathroom visits. “Catheterization Schedule” is also listed under Program Modifications and indicates under frequency and amount to “see Individual Health Plan (IHP).” Through interviews, district staff indicated the student was assisted with the procedure two times per day by two trained paraprofessionals during the period of time from January to June 2007. The department concludes the district properly implemented a student’s IEP regarding the use of an AlphaSmart, a tape recorder, and catheterization assistance.

In each IEP, there was one measurable annual math goal for the student. Under testing accommodations, it notes a “small group setting in a distraction-free environment,” but there is nothing specifically stated for math. Interviews with regular and special education teachers indicate there have been times when the student was part of a small group that was moved to a quieter conference room area to provide less distractions and to increase attention.

The June 2006 IEP, under Present Level of Educational Performance, states the student “can be relied upon during discussions in self-contained math.” The IEP also states “full-time involvement in the general curriculum, especially in the area of mathematics would cause frustration” for the student and requires an alternate math curriculum. The IEP does not specify whether the student will receive math instruction in the regular or special education environment. The IEP did not clearly state the location of specialized instruction in math.

  • Whether the district, between January 10, 2007, and June 15, 2007, properly considered the parent’s concerns regarding the need for auditory aids, assistance with class note-taking, and participation in regular physical education.

In developing each student’s IEP, the IEP team must consider the student’s strengths and the concerns of the student’s parents for enhancing the education of their child. In the June 2006 IEP, there is either no information that addresses this, or the information there relates only to the student’s strengths but does not address the parents’ concerns. The March 2007 IEP addresses both the student’s strengths, as well as the parents’ concerns in the areas of “organizational skills, incomplete homework, and course selections.” Interviews with district educators and administration indicate each of the stated parent concerns were discussed, with a lengthy discussion regarding the student’s participation in regular education. While the IEP team considered the parents’ concerns and agreed with the need for auditory aids and assistance with class note-taking, this was not reflected in the IEP. The parents’ concerns for inclusion in regular physical education were discussed at the IEP team meeting, but the district did not agree with the parents. This consideration of regular education was also not addressed in the IEP. The department concludes the district did not properly consider and document the parents’ concerns regarding the need for auditory aids, assistance with class note-taking, and participation in regular physical education.

  • Whether the district, between January 10, 2007, and June 15, 2007, ensured that staff were informed of their specific responsibilities for implementing the student’s IEPs.

Each district must ensure each teacher and IEP provider is informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to implementing the child’s IEP. The district provided documentation of an “IEP at a Glance” form the district provided to each person responsible for implementing the student’s IEP during this time period. Through interviews with both regular and special education staff, as well as regular and special education administration, it was determined the case manager for the student regularly consults with teachers who are responsible for implementing the IEP. The department concludes the district ensured staff were informed of their specific responsibilities for implementing the student’s IEP.

  • Whether the district, between January 10, 2007, and June 15, 2007, included required participants during the IEP team meetings.

The parent alleges the district discussed items in the IEP team meeting without the entire team present with many of the team members coming late, leaving early, or staying for only a short period of time. The district must ensure the IEP team for each student with a disability includes at least one regular education teacher of the student (if the student is participating in the regular education environment); at least one special education teacher of the student, and a local education agency (LEA) representative of the public agency who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities; is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the district. The cover sheet of the March 13, 2007, IEP lists 15 IEP team participants, including both parents and the student. Present were three special education teachers, four regular education teachers, a special education paraprofessional, guidance counselor, school social worker, and the adaptive physical education teacher. The associate principal served as the LEA representative. The IEP team meeting was over two hours and some teachers needed to return to their other students. At least one regular educator and one special educator and the LEA representative were present for the entire meeting. The department concludes the district included required participants during the IEP team meetings.

After the complaint was filed, the district and the parents mutually agreed to participate in mediation on February 25, 2008. The subsequent IEP has an implementation date of February 26, 2008. Therefore, no further child specific corrective action is required at this time.

Within 30 days, the district must submit a corrective action plan to the department. The corrective action plan needs to address how the district will properly consider and document parents’ concerns and how the district will specify the environment in which a student will receive instruction. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 3/10/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/tg

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