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IDEA Complaint Decision 11-013

On March 2, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2010-11 school year, properly provided educational services to a student with a disability who was expelled.

Beginning on the eleventh cumulative school day of removal in a school year, and during subsequent removals, the district must provide services necessary to enable the student to continue to participate appropriately in the general curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward achieving his individualized education program (IEP) goals. If the removal will not result in a change of placement, the decision about the necessary services is made by school personnel (e.g., the school principal or other administrator), in consultation with at least one of the child’s teachers. School personnel determine where the services will be provided. The services may vary depending on the needs of the student and the length of the removal. A change of placement occurs if the removal is for more than ten consecutive days or the child has been subjected to a series of removals that constitute a pattern. If the removal results in a change of placement, the IEP team determines the services and setting.

On January 12, 2011, the student was involved in a behavior incident, and was suspended from school beginning January 19, pending a central office disciplinary hearing; January 19 was the 11th cumulative day of removal during the 2010-11 school year. On January 26, the district conducted a central office discipline hearing and determined the district would proceed with an expulsion hearing as a result. On January 27, an IEP team meeting was conducted for the student to review and revise his IEP, conduct a manifestation determination, and determine placement. The IEP team determined the behavior subject to disciplinary action was not a manifestation of the student’s disability and decided the student would receive services at a city library until a new placement was determined.

On February 22, the IEP team determined the student’s placement would be changed to an alternative partnership school serving only students with disabilities. On February 23, an expulsion hearing was held and the student was expelled with services. On March 7, the student was enrolled at the alternative partnership school. There is no evidence the student was provided educational services on January 28 or 31; February 1, 11, 25, or 28; or March 2, 3, or 4.

By May 16, 2011, the district must convene an IEP team meeting to consider whether compensatory services are required for the failure to provide services for those days. By May 23, the district must provide the department a copy of student’s IEP, documenting the IEP team’s decision. On April 1, the district completed staff training to ensure the district complies with special education discipline requirements related to the provision of services. The department will conduct current compliance verification activities and determine if additional corrective action is required.

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 4/26/11
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy