On February 24, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Greenfield School District, on behalf of her son and daughter. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues, which relate to the 2010-11 school year, are whether the district:
- Properly responded to a parent request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting.
A parent may request an IEP team meeting at any time, and a district should respond to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review the students IEP. A district must take steps to ensure one or both of the parents of a child are present at an IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. The district must notify the parents of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to attend and must schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. If the childs parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation.
The complainant has two children receiving special education services, a son and a daughter. On January 31, 2011, she requested the IEP team meeting for her son. The district spoke with her on February 1, 2011, and requested possible dates and times. The mother did not provide dates; rather, she requested that the IEP team meeting be held in another town closer to where she resides. The district, in a letter dated February 7, 2011, informed the mother that her sons IEP meeting would need to be in Greenfield, but she could appear via telephone conference. The district again also encouraged the mother to contact the district to schedule an IEP team meeting for her son.
In a letter dated February 20, 2011, the mother stated that her attorney would contact the district to schedule an IEP team meeting. On March 4, 2011, the mother attended an IEP team meeting for her daughter. At the conclusion of the meeting, the mother notified the district that she would either have her attorney contact the district to schedule a date for an IEP team meeting for her son, or she would fax dates for an IEP team meeting. On March 21, 2011, a fax providing possible dates was sent to the district, and an IEP team meeting was scheduled for March 29, 2011. The mother cancelled the meeting on March 28, 2011, and the district and the mother rescheduled the meeting for April 13, 2011.
The district properly responded to the mothers request for an IEP team meeting. The district made reasonable efforts to respond to the parents request to schedule an IEP team meeting by asking for potential dates and encouraging her to contact the district the district to schedule a meeting. Declining the parents request to hold the meeting at an alternate location was reasonable given the distance required for staff to travel to the alternate location. The districts offer of a telephone conference was a reasonable alternative.
- Properly scheduled an IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed on time.
The mother alleges that the district did not properly schedule an IEP team meeting for her daughter at a mutually agreed on time. On January 28, 2010, the father requested an IEP team meeting to discuss the possibility of changing his daughters placement. The district on the same day called the mother to schedule the meeting. On February 1 and February 3, the district sent the mother written invitations to attend an IEP meeting to be held on February 7, 2011. The mother cancelled the February 7 meeting. The district contacted the mother by letter, dated February 7, to obtain dates and times where the mother could attend an IEP team meeting between February 16 and March 4, 2011 for her daughter. The mother did not respond.
The district also contacted the father on February 15, 2011, to reschedule the IEP meeting he requested, and at that time, scheduled a meeting for March 4, 2011. The district, pursuant to the mothers request, contacted the mothers attorney on February 16, 2011, to inform her of and invite her to the rescheduled IEP meeting that would be held on March 4, 2011. At that time, the mothers attorney informed the district that the mother was requesting an IEP meeting not be held until after March 24, 2011.
The district mailed invitations to the mother regarding the March 4, 2011 IEP meeting on February 17, 22, and 25. In the letter dated February 22, the district indicated the meeting would proceed on March 4, 2011, to discuss the fathers request to possibly change his daughters placement. The district offered to accommodate the mother so she could participate in the March 4 meeting, such as setting up a conference call or arranging a second IEP meeting where the mother could attend at another time. The district invited the mother to contact the district so it could accommodate her needs to allow her to participate in the March 4 IEP meeting.
After these invitations, the mothers attorney again requested that the district change the March 4 meeting date. The district sent a letter on March 2, 2011, stating it would proceed with the March 4 meeting and the district would make arrangements for the mother so she could participate in the IEP team meeting.
On March 3, 2011, the mother indicated she would attend the March 4 IEP team meeting. The district held an IEP team meeting on March 4, 2011, with both parents in attendance. The entire team agreed with the current placement until the end of the 2010-11 school year. The IEP team agreed to meet again in May of 2011 to discuss extended school year services and placement for the 2011-12 school year.
The district made reasonable attempts to schedule a meeting where both parents in fact attended and had an opportunity to participate. The district properly scheduled an IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed on time.
- Properly responded to a parent request to change placement.
At a March 4, 2011 IEP team meeting, the IEP team discussed the fathers request to change his daughters placement. Both the mother and the father attended this meeting and provided input. The IEP team considered that information and determined they would maintain the current placement until the end of the 2010-11 school year. The team believed the students placement has led to improved student behavior and is appropriate based on the students individual needs. The team decided that it would schedule an IEP meeting in May 2011 to discuss extended school year services and placement for the 2011-12 school year. Both parents agreed with this decision. The district properly responded to a parents request to change placement.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
//signed CST 4/18/11
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy