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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-009

On March 12, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district provided required transportation consistent with a student’s individualized education program (IEP) between February 19 and March 12, 2009.

On February 6, 2009, the student was suspended from school for five days and was readmitted to school on February 13. Although a district central office discipline hearing was requested, it was not held. On February 10, 2009, the district had a phone conversation with the parent, and the parent requested an IEP team meeting to change the student’s placement. On February 17, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP and determine continuing placement. The student, the student’s parent, and an advocate attended the IEP team meeting. The team determined the student’s placement would be changed to a small high school setting with a projected implementation date of February 19, 2009.

The IEP developed for the student on February 17, 2009 requires the related service of transportation by yellow bus door-to-door between February 17 and October 28, 2009. On February 17, the parent was provided the IEP and notice of placement, and the special services supervisor, serving as the local education representative at the IEP team meeting, sent a reservation for the new school, determined by the IEP team, to the Department of Student Services. In a March 26, 2009 letter to the department the district states the student’s February 17 notice of placement is incorrectly dated February 12 and should be February 17. The district also states, “Secondly, the placement page indicated that the new placement would begin on February 19, 2009. Instead the placement page should have indicated that the placement would remain at (name of high school) until all arrangements, including transportation, had been secured for (name of new high school).” However, the determination and notice of placement provided the parent February 17 states the placement would begin February 19, 2009. The student’s parent and the parent’s advocate contacted a number of district staff requesting transportation for the student. The district Department of Student Services completed the assignment of the student on February 27, ten days after receipt of a February 17 fax reservation for the new assignment. Transportation was not requested by the district until March 4, transportation arrangements were completed March 9, and transportation was provided for the first time on March 12. The student did not attend school between February 23 and March 9, 2009. The student’s parent transported the student to the new school on March 10 and March 11.

The district must ensure no interruption of IEP services occurs when children with disabilities transfer from one school to another in the district. The district must provide required special education and related services consistent with a student’s IEP. Although the district maintains the student could have continued to receive services at the original high school of placement, the parent was informed the student would receive services, including transportation, at another high school. The district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine whether additional services are required because of the delay in providing transportation and implementation of the IEP in the new placement. The district must submit documentation of this determination to the department by May 15, 2009.

In addition, the district must review and revise, if necessary, district procedures regarding (1) timely student school assignment as determined by an IEP team and (2) transportation as a special education related service including establishing what district staff, and backup staff when staff are on leave, are responsible to order the transportation and to ensure no interruption of services occurs when children with disabilities transfer from one school to another in the district. Further, the district will provide training to all the special education leadership liaisons (SELLs), special services supervisors, district staff who regularly serve as IEP team LEA representatives, and any other district staff at central office or in schools responsible to complete school assignments and order the transportation to ensure no interruption of services occurs when children with disabilities transfer from one school to another in the district. By June 15, the district must provide the department a copy of the procedures with documentation of training activities completed.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 4/22/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy