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IDEA Complaint Decision 04-007

On March 1, 2004, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in February 2004, implemented a student's individualized education program (IEP) regarding use of out-of-school suspension.

In February, 2004, a special education assistant and a teacher took the student to a safe or quiet room because of conduct that occurred in the lunchroom and classroom. While the teacher was leaving the room, the student threw his shoe and hit the assistant, who was standing close to the teacher, in the forehead. The assistant then took the student to the principal's office.

In accordance with school district policy, the principal gave the student a one-day suspension for throwing his shoe at the assistant. The student's behavior intervention plan (BIP) states that a one-day suspension may be given if the behavior involves physical aggression that results in injury and if intent to hurt is present. The parent believes that the student did not intend to hurt anyone; and therefore, the suspension was inconsistent with the IEP. The principal based her decision on the assistant's account that she was injured by the incident and that the student had taken deliberate aim. The principal also believes that given the size of the room it would have been unlikely that a random throw would have hit someone. Furthermore, the principal stated that the student told her that he was aiming at the teacher but that he hit the assistant instead. The department finds that the one-day suspension was consistent with the student's BIP.

Since the incident occurred, a functional behavioral assessment has been conducted. The IEP team has also conducted the annual review and revision of the student's IEP, and the student's BIP has been revised to include positive behavioral strategies. The revised IEP further states that when considering a suspension, the principal will review the content of the IEP and BIP, and consult with teachers, support staff, and parents, if they can be reached in a timely manner.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 4/14/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy