On June 27, 2008, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the West Bend School District. The issues are whether the district, during the 2007-08 school year:
- Properly implemented a student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding provision of special education, use of supplementary aids and services, and program supports for school personnel;
- Ensured that staff responsible for implementing portions of the child's IEP were informed of their responsibilities; and
- Provided required special education services to a child with a disability utilizing properly licensed teaching staff.
On April 30, 2007, an IEP team convened by another school district met and developed an IEP for the student. Because the parents were moving the student to the West Bend School District for the school year of implementation, a district representative attended the April 30 IEP team meeting. On July 23, 2007, a program support teacher with West Bend reviewed the April IEP and determined that it would be implemented as written in the district. The student began attending the West Bend School District during summer school prior to the 2007-08 school year. The parents removed the student from the district and began home- schooling on February 21, 2008.
Services must be stated in the IEP so that the level of the agencys commitment of resources and the extent of removal from the regular education environment will be clear to the parents and other IEP team participants. The program summary of the students IEP included four hours of cross-categorical special education services each day. The IEP did not include a description of whether the services would be delivered in the regular education classroom or another location. The parents and other IEP team participants were not informed of where the services would take place or the extent of the removal from the regular education environment.
The supplementary aides and services listed in the students IEP included aide support in physical education class for a minimum of thirty minutes two times per week. According to the district, an aide would check in with the physical education teacher and the teacher would indicate whether or not the support was needed. The district did not consistently provide the aide support in physical education class required by the students IEP. Furthermore, the use of the word "minimum" does not clearly convey the commitment of resources.
The students IEP listed monthly 30 minute team meetings as a program support for school personnel, and provided for 15 minutes per month of consultation with the specialist for art and physical education. Interviews with district staff confirm that the grade level team met weekly for 45 minutes, the special education team met bi-weekly for a minimum of 30 minutes, the occupational therapy team met monthly for 30 minutes, and regular and special education staff met collaboratively each month for one hour. Teaching staff describe several instances of weekly meetings with physical education and art specialists, which consisted of at least 15 minutes per month. The district provided team meetings and consultation as required in the students IEP.
A visual schedule and daily assignment notebook were provided as supports in the students IEP. Teaching staff confirm that the visual schedule was posted on the students desk and the district provided a copy of the schedule to the department. The district provided a daily assignment notebook to the student, and students teachers used e-mails and phone calls to support communication between home and school. The district provided the visual schedule and daily assignment notebook as required in the students IEP.
Districts must ensure regular education teachers, special education teachers, related services providers, and other service providers are informed of their specific responsibilities related to implementing the childs IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided to the child in accordance with the IEP. This requirement is critical to ensuring the IEP is appropriately and effectively implemented. The district special education teachers held meetings before the beginning of the school year to communicate IEP components and responsibilities to school aides and other teaching staff who would assist in IEP implementation. The district ensured staff members responsible for implementing portions of the childs IEP were informed of their responsibilities.
The student's IEP required special education services related to an emotional/behavioral disability. The parents allege these services were not provided by a properly licensed special education teacher. If a special education teacher has a license in the child's area of disability, the teacher is presumed to be qualified to teach the child. The teacher currently holds a valid Wisconsin license for special education emotional behavioral disabilities, which is effective from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2011. The teacher is properly licensed to provide the services required in the student's IEP.
Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure all IEPs contain the required specificity and that IEPs are implemented as written. No child specific corrective action is required because the student no longer attends the school district.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 8/26/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy