On April 12, 2018 AdvocacyDenver filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Education State Complaince Officer on behalf of students eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act served by Denver Public Schools.
The complaint was submitted and accepted as a systemic complaint. That is, the individual students named in the complaint served as the factual basis for the systemic allegations; individualized remedies were not issued by the State Complaint Officer. This is said to be the first systemic complaint accepted by the state. Five allegations were accepted for investigation.
Because of the systemic nature and the volume of documentation to be reviewed as a part of the investigation, an extension and additional extension order for issuance of the final decision was issued. On August 1, 2018 a decision was issued for each allegation:
1. The Special Education Director or designees participating in the IEP meeting as the agency’s representative do not have the authority to commit the District’s resources to provide supplementary services from a paraprofessional in the general education setting because funding for such services is subject to approval by application, committee, designated administrator, or some other mechanism following the IEP meeting during which the IEP was developed, in violation of 34 CFR § 300.321(a)(4) and ECEA Rule 4.03(5)(a).
CDE finds a violation. The separate approval process removes the paraprofessional decision, including start date, frequency, duration, and location, from the IEP team members and results in an administrative veto to override.
2. The District determines the provision of supplementary services from a paraprofessional outside of the IEP meeting and fails to provide prior written notice of the decision to approve or deny such services.
CDE finds a violation. The District has utilized a process in determining IEP services outside of the team process. As a result, the Parent is not provided with PWN for decisions regarding paraprofessional support.
3. The District’s process for approving funding for supplementary services from a paraprofessional unreasonably delays implementation of the IEP.
CDE finds a violation. The paraprofessional approval process sometimes took months to complete. Once completed, the recruitment hiring process commenced. The result of this combined process is that students wait weeks and months to receive the service of a paraprofessional as outlined in their IEPs. This constitutes a material implementation failure.
4. The District fails to clearly specify the nature, type, frequency, location and duration of supplementary aids and services to be provided by preventing supplementary services from being added to the service delivery statement through application of its IEP software system.
CDE finds a violation. When paraprofessional services are noted, it is very general terms and does not provide sufficient information regarding frequency, duration, or location of the service.
5. The District fails to clearly specify the nature, type, frequency, location and duration of supplementary aids and services to be provided by prohibiting IEP teams from specifically identifying paraprofessional support on an IEP and requiring such services be described by using phrases such as adult support, line of sight supervision, or other similar phrasing identified by the complainant.
CDE finds a violation. The nature, type, frequency, duration or location of service is not clearly specified in student’s IEPs.
The decision includes a list of corrective actions and timeline. Read the full decision here.