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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-012

On February 16, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2006-2007 school year, followed required procedures when suspending a student with a disability or otherwise improperly excluded the student from school and properly responded to the parent’s request that the district change the student’s school placement.

On March 29, 2006, the district held an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting to develop an annual IEP and determine placement. The student continued placement at his middle school for the remainder of the 2005-2006 school year. On September 5, 2006, the student entered a district high school for the 2006-2007 school year.

Although the district electronic student information system (ESIS) documents the student as absent, the district acknowledges that the student was excluded from school on more than ten cumulative days in the 2006-2007 school year. The district acknowledges that they did not follow required procedures when suspending or improperly excluding the student from school. The district did not provide the student services on days of removal after the student’s school removals exceeded ten cumulative days.

On January 8, 2007, the student’s mother made an appeal to the district to change the student’s school assignment for her son based on court recommendations. On February 1, 2007, the manager of student assignments changed the student’s school assignment and made two phone calls to the parent. However there was no answer at the phone number called. On February 5, a special services supervisor attempted to call the parent to inform her of the student’s new school assignment. On February 14 the student’s mother went to the student’s original high school and was informed of the student’s new high school assignment. On February 14 the student registered at his new high school. On February 26 the district held an IEP team meeting to review and revise the student’s IEP, determine placement, and determine compensatory services for days when the student was suspended or otherwise improperly excluded from school. Between January 8 and February 14, the student should have continued to attend his assigned high school while waiting for the requested change in school assignment. The district changed the student’s school assignment following district procedures in response to the parent’s request and properly reviewed the student’s IEP and determined the student’s special education placement at his new school assignment.

The district is reviewing and revising the district disciplinary removal procedures. The district will ensure this review includes consideration of the circumstances of this complaint. Further the district will provide training to all the special education leadership liaisons (SELL) and special services supervisors on the revised procedures to ensure required procedures are properly followed when suspending a student with a disability. The revised district disciplinary removal procedures will be distributed to all school administrators. The SELL and leadership specialist will jointly complete a review of discipline operating procedures for the school this student originally attended. By May 15 the district must send to the department documentation of activities completed and an assurance of procedural compliance signed by the director of special education. In addition the district must correct the student’s ESIS attendance records and provide the department a copy of the student’s corrected ESIS attendance record by April 30, 2007.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 4/5/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy