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IDEA Complaint Decision 08-043

On April 29, 2008, 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 issues are whether the district, during the 2007-2008 school year, properly determined the student’s placement and properly followed the required special education disciplinary procedures.

A student with a disability received an inschool suspension for a portion of the school day following a behavioral incident on April 1, 2008. On April 1, 2008, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held for the purpose of developing an annual IEP and continuing placement. The IEP stated under “consideration of special factors” the student had a need in the area of behavior. The IEP described the behaviors that impeded the student’s learning and that of others as follows: “The student may display anger and walk out of class and may yell at students and staff.” The behavior goal on the IEP was “the student will increase the appropriateness of her interactions and will deal effectively with anger and/or conflict by the following: using strategies that help to calm; comply with directions given by an adult when she is agitated; and appropriately accepting feedback or redirection from familiar and unfamiliar adults about inappropriate behavior.” Special education services included behavior monitoring and coaching to develop appropriate strategies when frustrated with a frequency of daily checking and listed an amount of 12 minutes per week four weeks per month. Related services included social work services one time weekly for 20 minutes.

On April 2, 2008, the student again received an inschool suspension for a portion of the day following another behavioral incident. On April 4, 2008, and April 7, 2008, following two separate behavioral incidents, the student was sent home and received two days of out of school suspension. On April 7, 2008, a second IEP team meeting was held for the purpose of reviewing and revising the IEP and determining continuing placement. The district contends the IEP team including the parent discussed alternative placement options at this meeting and the grandparent requested information about other alternative programs or military school. Placement continued at the school. Behavior goals and special education and related services listed did not change from the previous April 1, 2008 IEP document.

On April 16, 2008, a third IEP team meeting was held for the purpose of developing an annual IEP and determining placement. The IEP team determined the student would receive daily direct instruction in math, reading, science and social studies, with a total of 10 hours per week. The student would also receive 12 minutes per week of direct instruction in social skills, and 12 minutes per week of behavior monitoring and coaching. The notice of placement provided the student would receive services at the public library and the public school. After the April 16 IEP team meeting, the student received instruction two hours per day at a public library. After a two week period, she then received instruction at the public school two hours per day. However, the April 16, 2008, IEP did not specify the student would receive instruction for only two hours per day. In other words, the IEP did not identify the extent of the reduction in schedule. An IEP team meeting was held on May 23, 2008, and the student returned to a full day schedule at the school. Prior to the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, the district will reconvene the IEP team to determine if additional services are necessary of the ambiguity in the student’s IEP.

Because the student had not been suspended for over ten days in a school year, the special education disciplinary requirements relating to disciplinary removals for more than ten cumulative school days did not apply.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 6/30/08
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy