On June 8, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Merton Community School District. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2011-12 school year, properly responded to a parents request for occupational therapy (OT) and speech and language (SL) services.
A district must make available a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities from the ages of 3 through 21 or until the student graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma. FAPE means special education and related services provided at public expense in conformity with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). A district must provide prior written notice that meets statutory requirements whenever it refuses to initiate or change the provisions of FAPE to a child.
The IEP team met on June 2, June 10, and July 18, 2011, to develop the students IEP. During the course of the three IEP team meetings, the parents requested the student be provided 360 minutes per week OT and 360 minutes per week SL services. After consideration of the parents request relative to the students needs, present levels of performance and annual goals, the IEP team determined that the amount of time for both OT and SL services offered by the district of 180 minutes per week for OT and 180 minutes per week for SL services would provide the student with FAPE. However, this was not documented in the students IEP and the district did not provide prior written notice when it was denied. The district did not properly respond to a parents request for additional OT and SL services.
The parent also alleged that discussions regarding the amount of OT and SL services were not based upon the students needs, and discussions regarding OT and SL services were held outside the IEP team meetings. As discussed above, consideration was given to the parent request for the amount of services for OT and SL services during the IEP team meetings. Professional discussions among IEP providers regarding proposed services did occur outside of the IEP team meetings. Preparatory activities the district engages in to develop a proposal or response to a parent proposal to be discussed at a later IEP team meeting are permitted outside of the IEP team meetings. The actual decision regarding the amount of services for OT and SL services was determined on July 18, 2011.
Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan (CAP) to the department for approval prior to implementation. The CAP must ensure staff understand how parent requests are documented and prior written notice is provided.
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. You may contact Teresa Goodier, Special Education Team, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 267-2947 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.
//signed CST 7/26/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support