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IDEA Complaint Decision 09-015

On March 12, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Weston School District. The department must issue a decision on such complaints within 60 days. The issue is whether the district, beginning in March 2008, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) with respect to positive behavior supports and interventions.

During the 2007-2008 school year, the student was placed by the student’s resident local education agency (LEA) in a private school. The parent alleges the student’s IEP was not properly implemented during a behavioral incident on March 13, 2008. The student formally stopped attending the private school on March 21, 2008. The parent then home-schooled the student until the family moved and enrolled the student in another district in November 2008.

The IEP in effect at the time of the incident addressed behavior as a special factor. The description of positive behavior supports and interventions to address the student’s behavior included statements such as “out of classroom interventions may include time limited removal...” and “specialized treatment plans may be developed for the student when deemed appropriate by the education team.” These statements are ambiguous and far too general to allow those responsible for implementing the IEP to determine the conditions under which supports and interventions were to be provided. There is no evidence a specific behavior intervention or treatment plan was developed for the student. Because of the lack of specificity, it was not possible for the IEP to be properly implemented in March 2008.

When an LEA places a student with a disability in a private school and the private school implements the student’s IEP, the LEA continues to be responsible for the provision of special education to the student consistent with state and federal law. The LEA failed to properly develop and implement the student’s IEP. Because the student is not currently enrolled in the district, no child specific corrective action is required. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan (CAP) for approval. The proposed CAP must describe steps the district will take to ensure it maintains ongoing responsibility for the IEPs of all students with disabilities placed by the LEA in private or other educational programs outside the district and the IEPs of such students are written with the required specificity so they can be appropriately implemented.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 4/29/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy