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IDEA Complaint Decision 10-051

On June 11, 2010 (letter June 8, 2010), the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Gilman School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, required medication as a condition for attending school; properly reduced the student’s school day; properly considered positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address behavior impeding learning; and properly notified a parent of an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting.

In October 2009, the parents met with the principal and school psychologist to discuss their child’s behaviors in the classroom and to explore options for possible interventions. The parents informed district staff their child was beginning medication, and they would like him to start school at a later time while adjusting to the medication. The student attended school on this shortened-day schedule for nine days. The student continued to receive special education services during this time. The district did not require medication as a condition for attendance. The district allowed the student to start school at a later time over a brief period of time, per the parent’s request, and this did not constitute a change in placement requiring an IEP team decision.

On May 6, 2009, an annual IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP for the following school year. The IEP identified behavior as a significant factor impeding learning, and provided for a behavior chart/schedule to keep the student focused. At the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, the student displayed daily behavioral outbursts in the classroom. On October 13, the student had a behavioral outburst causing potential physical harm. The police liaison officer was called to intervene, and a report was filed. As a consequence of this incident, the district implemented a behavioral intervention plan. However, the plan was not developed through an IEP team meeting or through an agreement with the parent to change the IEP without a meeting. The student continued to display behavioral outbursts throughout most of the school year.

On April 26, 2010, an IEP team meeting was held to review the results of a three-year reevaluation, and the parents did not attend. Based on the evidence gathered, the student no longer qualified for special education services under a specific learning disability. There was no evidence the IEP team considered whether the student had an emotional behavioral disability (EBD). On May 10 an IEP team meeting reconvened to discuss the student’s eligibility for special education services, and the parents attended. The IEP team determined the student was not eligible for special education services and was exited from special education. At the meeting, the parent agreed with this determination. However, two week later, the parent met with the principal and voiced ongoing concerns about the child’s behavior and the need to continue with special education services. On May 17, the principal sent the parents a letter which indicated they had the right to request an evaluation for EBD.

The district, in this case, did not properly consider positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address the student’s behavior. The district did not develop a behavioral intervention plan to address the student’s behavior through an IEP team meeting. In addition, although the student displayed significant behavioral outbursts throughout most of the school year and the IEP team identified behavior as a significant factor, the district dismissed the student from special education without considering whether the student may have an emotional behavioral disability.

A district must take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. A district must also keep a record of the attempts to arrange a mutually agreed upon time and place. On April 16 and 19, a note was sent home requesting an IEP meeting date. No other attempts to contact the parent by other means were made. On April 26, an IEP meeting was held to determine eligibility, and the parents did not attend. These limited attempts to notify the parent were not sufficient to ensure the parent had the opportunity to participate in the April 2010 IEP team meeting.

No child-specific corrective action is required because the student is no longer a resident of the district. The district must, within 30 days from the date of this decision, develop a corrective action plan to ensure behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports are properly developed; special education evaluations are conducted to assess all areas of suspected disability; and parents are properly afforded the opportunity to participate in IEP team meetings.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST/SJP 8/10/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy