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IDEA Complaint Decision 11-005

On January 31, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Green Bay Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2010-2011 school year, improperly restrained a student with a disability, properly responded to a parent’s request for an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting, and scheduled an IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed-upon time.

The district was informed the student had moved to the district on January 17, 2011. The student was enrolled and began attending school the next day. During the period covered by this complaint, the student attended school on January 18, 19, 21, 24 and 25.

A parent may request an IEP meeting at any time. A district should timely respond to any reasonable request from a parent for a meeting to review the student’s IEP. On January 21, the parent contacted the district and requested an IEP team meeting to review and revise the student’s IEP. Before the district could schedule the meeting, on January 26, the parent called the district with concerns including the student had been improperly restrained, and requested an IEP team meeting. The district scheduled a conference call on January 28, at a time convenient to the parent, to discuss the parent’s concerns. The conference call was not considered an IEP team meeting. During the call, the parent informed staff the student would not return to school until the student’s placement was changed. District staff explained an IEP team meeting was required before the student’s placement could be changed and attempted to schedule an IEP team meeting with the parent. The district offered to hold the meeting in the parent’s home or to arrange for the parent to participate by other means. The parent would not agree to a meeting date at that time.

Since the complaint was filed, the parent agreed to an IEP team meeting to review and revise the student’s IEP and discuss the student’s placement. The meeting was scheduled and held on February 14, 2010. The parent attended the meeting. The district properly responded to the parent’s request for an IEP team meeting and scheduled the meeting at a mutually agreed upon time.

In the complaint, the parent states the student has been inappropriately restrained in his chair using Therabands. The student’s IEP provided for positive behavior supports and interventions to address behavior and sensory needs including sensory breaks, sensory tools, clear expectations, and breaks throughout the day. Supplementary aids and services to be provided included a sensory diet, deep pressure, movement, fidgets and adaptive seating. Direct and indirect services from an occupational therapist were included to address the student’s sensory needs. The IEP noted the student responded well to the use of sensory input and sensory tools when overexcited or irritated, or when displaying defiance or refusal behaviors. The student’s IEP did not address the use of restraint and district staff report restraint was not used with the student.

Upon enrollment, in accordance with the student’s IEP, and following consultation with staff in the student’s previous district, the occupational therapist introduced the student to a number of sensory tools to identify those that would be most effective with the student in his new classroom setting. These tools included a Theraball, weighted vest, pressure vest, various “fidgets,” therapy putty and the Theraband. The Theraband was tied around the student’s front chair leg and provided the student with something to do with his legs and sensory resistance as he pushed his legs against the band. The Theraband was not tied to the student at any time. The student was able to remove the band from the chair at will and was able to freely get in and out of his seat.

The Theraband was introduced to the student on January 21 and was available on the student’s chair until the student’s last date of attendance at the school on January 25. The occupational therapist trained both the student’s special education teacher and student on the use of the band and observed the student using the band appropriately on two of the three days the student was in attendance following its introduction. The use of the Theraband was also explained to the parent. There is no evidence the student was restrained in school using the band or any other means.

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

//signed CST 3/29/11
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy