IDEA Complaint Decision 10-025

On April 12, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Chequamegon School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year:

  • Implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the provision of an individual work area to meet sensory needs, video clipping related to social skill attainment, and training of staff;
  • Considered positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address behavior which impedes the student's learning or that of others;
  • Properly changed the student’s placement; and
  • Improperly excluded the student from school.

On May 29, 2009, the IEP team met and developed an IEP for the student. The IEP included an annual goal related to developing an ongoing sensory diet at school. The objective stated the student’s classroom and individual work areas would have ongoing adjustments to meet the student’s sensory needs. On January 20, 2010, the IEP team met to review and revise the student’s IEP. The IEP incorporated the same goal related to the student’s sensory diet and a new goal of appropriate social skills attainment through use of video clips. The IEP also included a program modification or support which stated staff working with student would receive annual training in autism via on-line seminars for 30-120 minutes.

A school district must provide each child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A school district documents its obligation to provide a student with a FAPE through the IEP. Services must be stated in the IEP so the level of the agency’s commitment of resources is clear to parents and other IEP team members. The IEP must also be written in a way that is clear to all those responsible for implementation. District staff provided an individual work area to meet the student’s sensory needs in a variety of environments. The district properly implemented the IEP regarding the provision of an individual work area to meet sensory needs.

District staff participated in autism training on March 19 and April 14. The training on March 19 included information about video clipping; however, the district acknowledged it did not provide the clips as required in the social skills goal objective. The district also acknowledged it did not provide the training to staff in an on-line format. Additionally, on-line autism training is stated in the IEP as a range of 30-120 minutes. This range is too wide to make the agency’s commitment of resources clear to the parents and those responsible for the IEP. The IEP also did not describe the services sufficiently so it could be implemented. The student was to receive “autism instruction and support with sensory, communication, and academic deficits, daily, from 900-1100 minutes” and “occupational therapy to monitor/consult sensory needs/diet, monthly, for 5-60 minutes." The range in autism instruction did not reflect a school day. The district failed to implement the student’s January IEP in video clipping for social skill attainment and training of staff, and failed to develop an IEP which was sufficiently clear to those responsible for implementing the student’s IEP and that clearly described the agency’s commitment of resources.

In the case of a student whose behavior impedes the student’s learning or that of others, an IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions, supports and other strategies to address that behavior. The student’s May 2009 IEP noted the student’s behavior was an impediment in learning; however, the IEP did not include any positive behavioral interventions, supports, or strategies. When the IEP team met again in January 2010, it attached a behavior plan which included positive interventions, strategies, and supports such as consistent routines, a visual schedule, and frequent verbal or nonverbal positive reinforcement. The district failed to consider the use of positive behavioral interventions, supports, and other strategies from May 29, 2009, through January 20, 2010.

Each child must be educated, to the maximum extent appropriate, with nondisabled peers in the regular education environment. Removal from the regular education environment must only occur when the child cannot be satisfactorily educated in that environment with the use of supplementary aids and services. If the IEP indicates the child will not participate full-time in the regular education environment, there must be an explanation of the extent the child will not participate in order to determine the student’s placement. The IEP states the student will not participate full-time with nondisabled peers and frequently lists services in multiple locations with a wide range of time. For example, school health services were to be provided in an elementary school therapy room, a high school therapy room, and the regular education classroom from 5 to 465 minutes per day. The special education and related services do not give any indication of when and where the student would be in each environment or how the student would spend his instructional time. The district failed to include an explanation of the extent to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in regular classes. As a consequence, the student was in and out of various classrooms with no consistency or predictability, and the amount of instructional time he received was unclear. It is impossible to determine whether the student’s placement was changed because the student’s IEP did not clearly describe the educational environment for the student. The parent asserts she was frequently asked to remove or keep her child home from school. Attendance records and interviews with district staff do not indicate a pattern of absences similar to those described by the parent. The district did not improperly exclude the student from school.

Within 30 days, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department to ensure:

  • Student IEPs are implemented as written;
  • Special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, program modifications and supports are written to make the agency’s commitment of resources clear to the parents and those responsible for the IEP;
  • In the case of a student whose behavior impedes the student’s learning, or that of others, an IEP team properly considers the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies to address that behavior;
  • If the IEP indicates the child will not participate full-time in the regular education environment, the IEP includes an explanation of the extent the child will not participate and clearly describes the location where the child will receive services; and
  • District staff will participate in IEP development training conducted by outside staff.

Within 30 days, the district must hold an IEP team meeting, and submit the student’s revised IEP to the department. The new IEP must clearly state the frequency and amount of services and the location where each service will take place. The IEP team must also determine compensatory services for the 2009-10 school year because the student’s IEP was not developed so that it could be implemented.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 6/9/10
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