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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-016

On April 2, 2012 (form dated March 29, 2012), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the River Valley School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2011-12 school year, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding behavioral interventions.

On March 27, 2012, during eighth hour, the student became agitated and went to the office to find a quiet room for the remainder of class as permitted by the student’s IEP. The student was accompanied by a paraprofessional. The office did not have enough space and the student was redirected to a quiet environment to work on assignments and, if needed, to process feelings appropriately. The student refused to work on assignments and instead took paint brushes off the shelves. The paraprofessional provided verbal redirection. The student then used profanity toward her, shoved several chairs, and threw cardboard across the room. The paraprofessional provided verbal redirection again, and the student’s behavior escalated, becoming more physically aggressive. The paraprofessional felt physically threatened by the student’s behaviors. The building coordinator called the principal to request assistance, and the principal contacted the special education director. Because the behaviors continued at a constant and sustained level, the police liaison was eventually contacted to assist with the situation. The parents were contacted about the incident on March 28, 2012.

The student’s behavior intervention plan (BIP) in effect on March 27, provided for a “specific emergency plan” to be used after interventions are used and found not to be effective. The emergency plan states the staff should first make contact with the case manager (who was absent on the day of the incident), then make contact with the principal who in turn contacts the special education director. If the student’s behaviors escalate to a constant and sustained level, the school police liaison may be called to assist in the situation. The parent maintains the district did not correctly follow the BIP on March 27, with regard to proper use of the police liaison. Staff first implemented the interventions provided in the BIP, which included redirection, removal to a quiet environment, and opportunity for the student to vent feelings appropriately, but these were not effective. Per the emergency plan, the principal and the special education director were both contacted, since the case manager could not be contacted because she was absent. Because the behaviors did not subside over time, the police liaison was eventually called to assist, which was consistent with the emergency plan.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. You may contact Suzan Van Beaver, Special Education Team, at (608) 267-9168 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 6/1/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support