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IDEA Complaint Decision 07-021

On March 5, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Beloit. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during February 2007, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding allowing the student to talk to a trusted adult and allowing the student to call home.

On August 31, 2006, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP, develop a transition statement, and determine placement for the student. The student’s parents and the student attended the meeting. The present level of educational performance informs staff it is important to allow the student to leave a classroom for behavior issues but he must request permission to leave in a non-demanding manner. The student’s behavior intervention plan (BIP) includes the statement: "Allow (student) to talk to a trusted adult when he is upset, angry or frustrated, when he requests or teacher feels he may need to problem-solve." In addition, the crisis intervention plan included in the IEP states:

  1. Use a calm, non-threatening voice when redirecting or correcting (student’s name).
  2. Choice given for time to regroup.
  3. "Remove (student) from the audience when it is apparent he is losing self-control, becoming confrontational and is demonstrating verbal aggression toward others to the Intervention Room where he may choose to speak to another adult he trusts."
  4. Call home when (student) demonstrates an inability to calm himself, refuses to follow directives or comply to administrative requests to provide parental intervention and help with de-escalation of behavioral issues.

On February 8, 2007, when the student reported to one of his classes he requested to leave to see a counselor. The teacher responded that the student was to stay in the class and talk to the counselor after the class. At this point, the student became visibly upset and the teacher allowed the student to leave with the paraprofessional to see the counselor. The teacher implemented the provision of the IEP allowing the student to leave the class to talk to a trusted adult. After the incident, the teacher wrote an insubordination discipline report and requested the student be removed from the class because the student was absent from the block class 42 times. Between November 2006 and January 30, 2007, the teacher spoke to the student’s parent six times regarding the student’s lack of attendance and participation in class. In addition, during this time the paraprofessional assigned to the student informed the student’s parent the student was not attending this class. After the teacher discussed the student’s participation in class with the school administrator and other school staff, the student was removed from the class. The student’s IEP does not address his participation in this class. Although the student was sometimes absent from the class due to request to see a counselor, the student’s removal from the class was an administrative action based on school class removal procedures applicable to all students, not due to the student’s request to talk to a trusted adult.

On the morning of February 9, the student was verbally aggressive with staff and threw his books. The student talked with the administrator in a classroom with no other students in the room, and after the student calmed down he continued with his scheduled class. The administrator did not call the student’s mother because the student calmed himself, followed directives, and complied with the administrative requests. Although the issue statement indicates the IEP requires the student is to be permitted to call home, in fact the IEP requires staff to call the parent under identified circumstances. The principal concluded there was no need for additional parental intervention to help with de-escalation of behavior. Nevertheless, the school administrator attempted to call the parent later in the morning but received no answer and no answering machine to leave a message. The paraprofessional and administrator followed the four items listed in the student’s IEP crisis intervention plan. The student’s IEP was properly implemented regarding allowing the student to talk to a trusted adult and calling the parent at home. Late in the morning on February 9, the student’s parole agent came to the school, as she routinely does, to check on assigned students. After interviewing staff the parole agent decided to have the student taken to juvenile detention. Nothing in state or federal special education law prevents law enforcement authorities from applying the law.

On March 22, 2007, an IEP team meeting was conducted to review and revise the student’s IEP, determine continuing placement, discuss concerns and review the BIP. The student’s mother and an IEP facilitator attended the meeting. An IEP team meeting will be held in May to review the student’s placement. The district properly implemented the student’s IEP regarding allowing the student to talk to a trusted adult and allowing the student to call home.

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

//signed 4/23/07
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy