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IDEA Complaint Decision 06-015

On March 21, 2006, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Waupaca School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2005-2006 school year, properly provided special education services in Language Arts and Math and properly determined and implemented restraint procedures for a student with a disability.

The current Individualized Education Program (IEP) states that the student’s math and language arts skills are below grade level. The student was to receive instruction in both of these areas in the special education classroom. However, the district acknowledges that until approximately the beginning of January, the classroom teacher was not providing instruction to the student in math and language arts. Rather, the teacher was allowing the aide to provide these services without supervision. Since January, the teacher has been providing instruction in these areas. Furthermore, the district acknowledges that there are no goals in the IEP for reading and language arts. The district will be conducting an IEP team meeting in the beginning of June to address these issues. In doing so, the IEP team must consider whether additional services are required because of the failure to properly provide special education services in Language Arts and Math during the 2005-2006 school year. Within 15 school days of the IEP team meeting, the district must also provide documentation to the department that additional services were considered.

In March 2006, the teacher was bit by the student and the teacher utilized a training technique in order to release the bite. The teacher had received crisis training in January and was taught to move into a bite in order to release the bite without tearing the skin. Despite the utilization of this technique, it took some time for the child to release the bite. The teacher also put his hand on the student’s head. The student eventually calmed down and the entire incident lasted approximately five minutes.

The incident was thoroughly investigated by the police, and no charges were filed. The police, in its investigation, contacted the training center and the center confirmed that the technique the teacher used was one that they taught. They also informed the police that if the teacher’s first reaction was to move into the bite and not pull away, the teacher was thinking clearly. The police report indicates that there was no injury to the child. The district further investigated the incident and did not find evidence of inappropriate conduct by the teacher. The district is aware of, and has implemented, the department’s "Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Physical Restraint in Special Education Programs." The teacher also stated that he is aware of these guidelines and that he follows them. However, the use of restraint is not addressed in the IEP.

The parent’s primary concern was that the teacher used excessive force. Based on the police and district reports, and on interviews conducted by department staff, the department cannot conclude that the teacher used excessive force in responding to the bite. The student has bitten other students and staff, and the student’s IEP provides few positive interventions and strategies to address his behavior. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the use of restraint is not addressed in the IEP. The district must ensure that these issues are addressed during the June IEP meeting, and documentation must be provided to the department within 15 school days of the IEP team meeting.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 5/22/06
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy