IDEA Complaint Decision 08-058

On June 16, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Whitnall School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding providing individual speech and language assistance, supplemental aids and services, consultation between the district reading coordinator and the student, and consultation between the district reading coordinator and the special education teacher.

The IEP team met and developed an IEP on October 22, 2007. The parent attended the meeting. The IEP provided for a minimum of 90 minutes per week of individual assistance from the speech and language therapist. The amount and frequency of these services were consistent with those in the IEP developed on December 14, 2006. The student received approximately 60 minutes weekly of individual assistance from the speech and language therapist from the start of the school year through April 23 because of scheduling issues. After the student’s schedule was changed on April 23, the student received at least 90 minutes of individual assistance. The district did not provide the amount of speech and language services listed on the IEP between September 4, 2007, and April 23, 2008.

The student’s IEP included the supplemental aids and services of extended time, assistance with class assignments, modified assignments and tests, tests read to the student, and repetition of instructions. The parent believed the supplemental aids and services were to be provided to the student in the resource room by the speech and language therapist and the therapist would be available at all times throughout the school day to address the student’s needs.

The IEP did not require the speech and language therapist to provide the supplemental services nor were the services to be provided only in the special education resource room. The IEP indicated the services were to be provided in general and special education environments "as needed when the student’s performance was compromised by his disability." The district felt the services were appropriately implemented because the speech and language therapist consulted regularly with the student’s general education teachers to insure supplemental aids were provided in the general education environment and the therapist provided supplemental services in the resource room when she felt they were needed.

An IEP must include a statement of services to be provided to the student including the anticipated amount, frequency, and location of services. The statement must describe the agency’s commitment of resources in a manner clear to the parents, other IEP team participants, and staff who will implement the IEP. The student’s IEP did not clearly describe the amount and frequency of services. The terms "as needed" and "when performance was compromised" did not provide the specificity required to make the agency’s commitment of resources clear to the parents and staff. The district did not appropriately develop the student’s IEP with respect to the provision of the supplemental aids and services.

The IEP provided for quarterly consultation between the district reading coordinator and student to ensure continuing development of reading comprehension skills and quarterly consultation between the student’s special education teacher and district reading coordinator. The special education teacher consulted with the reading coordinator only during the first quarter. The student did not meet with the coordinator during the 2007-2008 school year. The district lost its reading coordinator in November 2007 and did not revise the IEP or provide comparable services for the remainder of the year. The district did not appropriately implement the student’s IEP with respect to consultation services.

The student has graduated and is no longer enrolled in the district, so no student specific corrective action is required. The district has agreed to provide professional development to all special education staff members at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year to ensure staff are aware of the responsibility to implement student IEPs as written, to review and revise the IEP if services are not to be provided as written, and to ensure IEP statements of special education services contain the required specificity. The district will submit documentation to the department when the corrective actions are completed.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 7/24/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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