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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-020

On March 1, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against East Troy Community Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during 2006-2007 school year, properly transmitted copies of a student’s records to appropriate authorities to whom the district reported a crime.

On January 10, 2007, a student was verbally and physically aggressive with staff. The administrator decided the student’s father should be called to come to school and get the student. The student’s verbal and physical aggression increased, and the administrator decided to also call the police department. When the student’s father and the Chief of Police arrived, the administrator introduced them and left them with the student to talk. After talking with the student and the student’s father, the Chief of Police asked the administrator if she was aware of any violence in the family. The administrator responded to the question stating she had been punched by the student’s brother the previous year. The district did not transmit or release any written records to the police department regarding the students prior to or after the police questioned the administrator. There is no evidence that the administrator referred anyone for suspected abuse.

Nothing in state or federal special education law prevents law enforcement authorities from applying the law or district staff from reporting a crime committed by a child with a disability to law enforcement authorities. A district reporting a crime committed by a child with a disability must ensure copies of the special education and disciplinary records of the child are sent for consideration by the appropriate authorities to whom it reports the crime. The district may transmit copies of these records only to the extent permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In this case, the district did not transmit or release any written records. The district administrator’s response to the Police Chief that she was punched by the student’s brother the previous year is not a disclosure of pupil records under FERPA. In addition, school teachers, administrators and counselors are among persons required to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect. All reports made under the Children’s Code are confidential. Any person in good faith making a report of suspected abuse or neglect has immunity from liability.

On March 21 a resolution meeting was held with the district administrator, director of special education and the student’s mother and father. On March 27, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was conducted to review and revise the student’s IEP, discuss concerns, and revise the behavior intervention plan. The student’s mother attended the meeting.

The director of special education and a district school psychologist continue to address concerns with the parent as they develop.

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

//signed 4/30/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy