IDEA Complaint Decision 08-009

On February 1, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) between September 2007 and February 1, 2008, regarding participation in special education classes.

On April 17, 2007, an IEP team met to review and revise the student’s IEP, develop a transition statement, and determine continuing placement. The student’s parent and a parent advocate attended the meeting. The student’s placement for the 2006-2007 school year continued at the student’s 2006-2007 middle school and a high school for the 2007-2008 school year was listed on the April 17, 2007 determination and notice of placement.

On September 4, 2007, the first day of student attendance for the 2007-2008 school year, the student attended a high school other than the high school named on the April 17, 2007 IEP determination and notice of placement. The April 17 IEP described special education services to be provided between November 15, 2006, and November 8, 2007, and stated the student would receive 248 minutes specialized and direct instruction per day. The student’s participation with non-disabled peers in the regular education environment explanation states: “[Student’s name] has significant academic delays and exhibits behaviors that disrupt the education of others. [Student’ name] requires small group instruction, a highly structured learning environment, and individual attention, services that he could only receive in a special education setting. [Student’s name] will receive all core academic instruction in a special education setting (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies) he will attend FAVE classes with regular education peers. [Student’s name] will be able to participate in extra curricular and non academic activities with non-disabled peers.” The student’s six high school core academic instruction classes, (citizenship, communication skills, mathematics, physical science, reading, and skill streaming), were taught by special education teachers and included small group instruction, a highly structured learning environment, and individual attention in a special education setting. The student’s physical education class was with non-disabled peers. The student moved between classrooms to attend his special education classes and physical education class. The IEP does not include any information about moving between classrooms. Although the student’s six special education classes totaled 282 minutes, 34 more minutes of special education service than in the March 17 IEP, these minutes were necessary in order to provide the student all core academic instruction in a special education setting and a full day high school program as provided in the IEP.

On November 9, 2007, an IEP team met to review and revise the student’s IEP, develop a transition statement, and determine continuing placement. The student’s parent and a parent advocate attended the meeting. Special education services to be provided beginning November 12 state the student would receive 155 minutes specialized instruction per day in reading, writing, math, and behavioral social skills. The student’s participation with non-disabled peers in regular education environment explanation states: “Will the student be able to participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities with non-disabled students? Yes. [Student’s name] is a student with a cognitive disability. He has significant academic delays and exhibits behaviors that disrupt the school environment. [Student’s name] requires a small group setting and a specialized curriculum with accommodations and modifications that will enable him to graduate high school.” The student’s placement continued at the high school he was attending. The student’s parent brought up concerns during the meeting about the student’s learning and the size of the school. The team ended the IEP meeting agreeing to accept the IEP as written pending another meeting to review and revise the IEP. The student continued to have his high school core academic classes taught by special education teachers in a special education setting. The student’s physical education class was with non-disabled peers. The student moved between classrooms to attend his special education classes and physical education class. The IEP does not include any information about moving between classrooms. Beginning November 12, the student’s six special education classes totaled 282 minutes which is 126 minutes more of special education service than in the November 9 IEP. However, these minutes were necessary to provide the student all core academic instruction in a small group setting and a specialized curriculum with accommodations and modifications to enable him to graduate high school as stated in the IEP.

On December 14, 2007, an IEP team met to review and revise the student’s IEP, develop a transition statement, functional behavioral assessment, behavioral intervention plan, and determine continuing placement including discussion of placement in another school. The student’s parent attended the meeting. Special education services to be provided beginning November 19 state the student would receive 315 minutes five times a week of specially designed instruction that supports the social and behavioral skills for all instruction, concurrent specialized instruction in reading, writing, math, and social/life skills. The student’s participation with non-disabled peers in regular education environment explanation states: “Will the student be able to participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities with non-disabled students? Yes. [Student’s name] is a student with a cognitive disability. He has significant academic delays and exhibits behaviors that disrupt the school environment. [Student’s name] requires a specialized environment to secure his safety and the safety of others as well as a specialized curriculum with accommodations and modifications that cannot be provided in a regular classroom because of the significant differences in content.” The student’s placement was changed to a smaller high school. The IEP implementation date was December 19, 2007, and the student is currently attending this school.

The district ensured the student received required special education services as described in the student’s IEPs consistent with the explanation of the student’s participation with non-disabled peers in the regular education environment. However, the IEP statements of special education services do not accurately describe the amount and frequency of special education provided the student between September 4 and December 18, 2007. The amount of time to be committed to each of the special education services must be appropriate to the specific service and stated in a manner that can be understood by all involved in developing and implementing the IEP.

The district is directed to review, and revise if necessary, the current IEPs of all students with a disability at the student’s September 2007 school of placement to ensure that all student’s IEPs correctly describe both the student’s participation with non-disabled peers in the regular education environment and the statement of special education services to be received based on the individual needs of the students. In addition, the district must review, and revise if necessary, the current IEP of the student who is the subject of this complaint and attending a different school. By April 30, 2008, the district must send to the department an assurance all IEPs have been reviewed and revised if needed.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 4/1/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jfd

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