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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-012

On February 24, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Waterford Union High School. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, properly implemented the student’s behavioral intervention plan (BIP) and properly followed required procedures when disciplining a child with a disability.

The student’s individualized education program (IEP) team identified the student’s behavior as a special factor. When behavior is identified as a special factor, the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavior interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address the behavior. In this case, the student’s IEP includes a BIP that identifies several positive supports and strategies such as rewards, choice in seating, gum, allowing the student to go to another area to calm down, and visual and verbal clues to help with redirection. The student’s IEP also includes a behavior goal designed to increase positive and appropriate staff and peer interactions.

The student either had a special education teacher or a special education aide in all but one class. In the beginning of the school year, the case manager provided a copy of the student’s BIP to each of the student’s teachers. In addition, the case manager regularly communicates with the student’s teachers and offers suggestions when necessary. For example, the case manager suggested that one teacher write down directives, rather than orally communicating them, because the student often perceives directives given orally as yelling even if stated in a calm manner. The student’s teachers are aware of the student’s BIP and implement it throughout the school day.

The district also followed required procedures when disciplining the student. After a student has been removed for 10 cumulative school days in the same school year due to disciplinary reasons, during any subsequent removal, the school district must provide services to the extent necessary to enable the child to continue to participate appropriately in the general curriculum, although in another setting, and appropriately advance toward achieving the IEP goals. In-school suspensions are counted as removals unless the student has the opportunity to continue to participate in the general curriculum, receive the services specified in the IEP, and participate with nondisabled students to the extent he or she would have in the current placement. In this case, the student received two out-of-school suspensions and three and one-half in-school suspensions. The in-school suspensions were not removals because the above conditions were met. The district was not required to provide services to the student because the removals did not exceed ten cumulative school days.

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

//signed CST/SJP 4/20/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy