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State Complaint Investigations

The following Complaint Investigation Report summaries are intended to be a reference guide only, and have no legal authority.  If you are interested in learning more about any of the issues described in the summaries, please see the full reports provided.

Case # 10.002C

Case Title: Parent v. Lewiston

Allegation Categories: Discipline, Evaluations, IEP Contents, IEP Implementation, IEP Process, Placement

The parent of a student with emotional disturbance who was refusing to attend class or to do any work with his tutor filed a complaint alleging that the District failed to revise the Student’s IEP, including the behavior plan, to properly address the non-compliant behaviors.  The complaint also alleged a failure to place the Student in the least restrictive environment due to the IEP team’s continuing to provide tutoring as the Student’s placement rather than a day treatment program.  The Commissioner found violations for failing to revise the Student’s IEP, and for failing to offer a full range of placement alternatives.  An additional violation was found for failing to make manifestation determinations when the Student was given two series of suspensions totaling more than 10 days, once before and once after the Student was receiving special education services.

Case # 10.009C

Case Title: Parent v. Augusta

Allegation Categories: IEP Contents, IEP Implementation, Records

The parent of a student with emotional disturbance complained that the district was not implementing the student’s IEP with respect to provision of counseling services, permitting the Student to leave class, and communicating with the parent.  The parent further alleged that the District had failed to offer ESY services and to provide the parent with requested records.  No violations were found, with the sole exception of the allegation concerning counseling.  Although the Student was in fact receiving counseling services, the District failed to include counseling as a related service in the IEP despite the IEP team’s determination that it would be provided.  

Case # 10.011C

Case Title: Parent v. Jay

Allegation Categories: IEP Implementation; IEP Process

A student’s IEP included a behavior plan that involved the Student taking “time out” in a “quiet area.”  The Student’s parent complained that the room being used for this purpose was a “timeout room” under the Department’s Chapter 33 regulations, and was not in compliance with those regulations.  The parent also alleged that the District had failed to provide her with sufficient information regarding the use of time out and physical restraint to allow the parent to fully participate in the IEP team meeting.  The Commissioner first noted that the Chapter 33 regulations expressly applied only to spaces specifically designated as timeout rooms.  The Commissioner found that several different rooms were being used by the Student for purposes of time out, and that the room used most often for this purpose was also used for several purposes not consistent with its use as a timeout room.  The Commissioner concluded that the Student was not in a “designated timeout room,” and that Chapter 33 regulations therefore did not apply.  The Commissioner also found no violation with respect to the information provided to the parent, finding that the parent was fully aware of the quiet areas being used by the Student and finding insufficient evidence to corroborate the Student’s report of an instance of physical restraint.

Case # 10.019C

Case Title: Parents v Cape Elizabeth

Allegation Categories: Eligibility; IEP/IFSP Process

Parents alleged that the District improperly determined to dismiss the Student from special education while at the same time continuing to provide the Student with specialized instruction and classroom and assessment accommodations.  The Commissioner determined that the District had not applied all the proper criteria before effecting a change in the Student’s eligibility, and should have explicitly considered the extent to which the Student’s academic progress was the result of additional instruction and support the Student was receiving both within and outside of school.  The Commissioner therefore directed the District to hold another IEP team meeting to reconsider the Student’s eligibility.

Case # 10.029C

Case Title: Parent & Parent v. Cape Elizabeth

Allegation Categories: Evaluations, FAPE, IEP Contents, IEP Implementation, IEP Process, Placement

Parents raised numerous issues regarding the Student’s IEP, and in addition alleged that the District’s determination to place the Student in a life skills class for most of the day was not the least restrictive appropriate placement and that the District had failed to timely review an assistive technology evaluation.  The Commissioner found generally that the District’s efforts with regards to the Student’s program were commendable and declined to find violations for most of the allegations, although violations were found respecting failure to ensure that all goals were measurable, failure to provide a class specified in the IEP (the Student’s schedule conflicted with the class, however the District did not amend the IEP or revise the schedule), failure to provide speech/language services during the first five weeks of school, and failure to be sufficiently specific regarding the location of some of the services identified in the IEP.  With regard to the issue of placement, the Commissioner found that the IEP process had been properly followed, and that the District’s placement decision was reasonable and properly based upon the information available to the IEP team when the decision was made.

Case # 10.032C

Case Title: D.R.C. v RSU #4

Allegation Categories: Eligibility; FAPE

A systemic complaint was filed based upon an alleged policy of the District that required any student receiving special education services who wished to enroll in the District’s alternative education program to first be dismissed from special education.  The issue was resolved through a resolution agreement adopted by the MDOE and the District.  The agreement provided that the District would not require that a student receiving special education services be dismissed from special education before enrolling in the alternative education program, that the student’s IEP team would make an initial determination whether those services required by the student could be delivered in the alternative education program, after which the student assistance team would determine whether any specially designed instruction provided under the student’s IEP was capable of being delivered within the context of the alternative education program.  The District further agreed to contact special education students who had previously expressed interest but declined to enroll in the alternative education program and offer them the opportunity to reconsider enrollment.

Case # 10.043C

Case Title: Parents v. RSU #23

Allegation Categories: IEP Contents; IEP Implementation; IEP Process

The parents’ primary concern was the provision of one-on-one support from an educational technician for the Student.  The Student’s 2008 IEP provided that the Student would receive one-on-one support 100% of the time.  The District, however, began assigning the educational technician who was supporting the Student responsibility for one other student at the same time, on the basis that the support required by the second student was minor and the Student’s needs were being met.  The Commissioner found a violation, interpreting “one-on-one” as precluding the educational technician from supporting more than one student at a time.  On the other hand, no violation was found with regard to the revision of the IEP at the 2009 annual review to continue support throughout the day, but removing the requirement that it be one-on-one, based upon information supplied at the IEP team meeting that the Student no longer required the same degree of assistance.  A further violation was found in connection with an allegation that the District had revised the IEP without obtaining the parents’ agreement to amend without an IEP team meeting.  The special education director met with the parents after the IEP team meeting in an effort to work out a compromise on the support issue.  The director believed that an agreement had been reached, but the parents informed the director that they had not decided to agree.  The director nevertheless developed the IEP consistent with the proposed compromise (which was more favorable to the parents’ position) rather than with the determinations made by the IEP team. 

Case # 10.048C

Case Title: Parent v. Portland

Allegation Categories: IEP Implementation; IEP Process

The Written Notice of the annual IEP review included a determination that the district would look into getting the Student into an after-school program, that the program would be considered as an “extended school day” program, that the program would be individualized to meet the Student’s needs, and that the District would provide support staff to assist the Student.  The Parent complained that the IEP did not include reference to the ESD program, and that the program was unavailable to the Student for the first few months of the school year because of a lack of support staff.  The Commissioner found a violation, ruling that the District was bound by the determination in the Written Notice and therefore should have included the service in the IEP and should have convened the IEP team within 30 days when the program became unavailable.

Case # 10.064CS

Case Title: DRC v. Dept. of Education

Allegation Categories: Evaluations; FAPE; IEP Contents; IEP Implementation; IEP Process

The Disabilities Rights Center requested an investigation into the Department’s alleged failure to ensure that blind or visually impaired students were receiving the services they needed, that their IEPs were being properly developed and that evaluations of this disability were being performed in conformity with legal requirements.  The Commissioner found violations, and required both short-term solutions for students not receiving services, long-tem solutions to improve the delivery of these services in the future, and training for special education administrators regarding districts’ obligations with respect to this student population.

Case # 10.070C

Case Title: "Parent & Parent v. RSU #58

Allegation Categories: IEP Contents; IEP Implementation

The Parents complained that the Student’s alleged lack of progress over the previous three years demonstrated the District had either selected a reading instruction methodology that was not appropriate for the Student’s specific disability, or that the District had improperly implemented the program.  In finding no violation, the Commissioner noted that the IDEA confers primary responsibility on the state and local educational agencies to choose among competing methodologies, and that the District was not required to provide the Parents’ choice, the choice of certain experts, or even the best choice, so long as the chosen methodology was reasonably calculated to provide meaningful educational benefit.  Likewise, although the Student’s progress recorded by the District may not have met the expectation of the Parents or those experts, there was sufficient progress to refute the suggestion that meaningful educational benefit was not being provided.  The Commissioner further noted the ongoing efforts of the District to modify the Student’s program in an effort to improve the Student’s performance.  The Commissioner also found no violation with respect to the Parents’ complaint that the reading program was being administered by a teacher who had not been specifically trained in the use of that program based on the absence of evidence that the program restricted its use only to those who had received such training or that the teacher was improperly administering the program.

Case # 10.076C

Case Title: "Parent & Parent v. Franklin County CDS"

Allegation Categories: IFSP Implementation

Where the Child’s IFSP provided for speech/language therapy sessions three times per week, the Parents complained that three sessions missed in December and two sessions in February, the dates of which corresponded to school vacation periods, were evidence of a policy of cancelling sessions during such times, and that the District had an obligation to make up the missed sessions.  The Commissioner noted the regulatory requirement that IFSPs of children birth through two years of age are to be based on a 12 month program year (and therefore do not correspond to the school year calendar), but found that the facts surrounding the missed sessions did not support the Parents’ contention.  The providers were hired on a year-round basis with the understanding that sessions were expected to occur during school vacation periods.  As to whether the Site was obligated to make up the missed sessions, the Commissioner found that the missed sessions constituted minor discrepancies in the implementation of the IFSP, and found no evidence of a lack of good faith effort on the providers’ part.  Accordingly, no violation was found and the Site was not required to make up the missed sessions.  

Case # 10.101C

Case Title: "Parents v. RSU #34"

Allegation Categories: IEP Process

Parents complained that the District held an IEP team meeting on a date when they knew the Parents were unavailable.  The Commissioner found no violation based on evidence that the District had made a good faith effort to schedule the meeting at a mutually convenient time, and on the fact that the District was required to hold the meeting prior to the annual review date.  The Commissioner further noted that the District offered to schedule a meeting after the annual review to provide the Parents with an opportunity to discuss any requested amendments to the new IEP.