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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-023

On April 30, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Gillett School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2011-12 school year, improperly excluded a student with a disability from school.

A district must make available a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities from the ages of 3 through 21 or until the student graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma. FAPE means special education and related services provided at public expense in conformity with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Paperwork for enrollment in the district was completed on August 11, 2011, and on August 15, 2011, the student turned 18 and became an adult student. The adult student attended school on September 1, 2011, the first day of the 2011-12 school year. An IEP team meeting was also held on September 1, 2011 for the purposes of developing an annual IEP, a statement of transition goals and services and determining placement. The student was invited to and attended the IEP team meeting with his mother. The student regularly attended school in the first and second quarters with only 3.2 days of absences. At the end of the third quarter, the student’s absences increased to 14.5 days. During the fourth quarter the student’s absences increased to 30.0 days. Students are required to stay in school until they graduate or until the end of the school term, quarter, or semester during which they turn 18 years of age. Truancy was not pursued by the district since the student turned 18 over the summer months prior to the start of the school year.

The student was suspended on February 23, 24, and 27, 2012. An additional 3 days of suspensions occurred on March 12, 13, and 14, 2012. An IEP team meeting was held upon the student’s return to the school on March 15, 2012. The student was invited to the IEP team meeting. The district verbally reminded the student he could invite his parents and the student called his mother and father. Neither parent attended the IEP team meeting. During the day on March 15 after the IEP team meeting, the father called and informed the district the student would no longer attend.

The district remained prepared to implement the student’s IEP when the student returned to school. On each school day after March 15, 2012, the district bus transportation stopped at the student’s residence. March 15, 2012 was the last date of attendance for the student for the 2011-12 school year, which ended on June 1, 2012. The student has since applied for open enrollment into a virtual school program. The district did not exclude a student with a disability from school.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. You may contact Teresa Goodier, Special Education Team, at (608) 267-2947 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 6/14/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support