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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-041

On August 17, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Appleton Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2011-12 school year, properly provided a current individualized education program (IEP) and placement for a student with a disability, and properly provided a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with a disability after April 16, 2012.

On March 12 and 13, 2012, the IEP team met to review and revise the student’s IEP and determine placement. The team determined the student be placed at a county-run school for one hour and twenty minutes a day three days a week, and in a private program for two hours a day five days a week beginning from March 19 to April 19. The student began this placement on March 14. On March 15, the parents spoke with a district staff member and the student’s placement in the private program was reduced to one hour a day, five days a week in order to accommodate the parent’s concerns with the student’s difficulty in transitioning. The IEP was not updated to reflect this change in placement. On March 22, the parent removed the student from the private program. On April 11, the parents and district staff exchanged emails and an IEP team meeting scheduled for that day was rescheduled for April 18. In addition, the student’s placement, which still stated the county and private placement, was extended until May 1. On April 16, the student’s placement at the county program ended. The IEP team met on April 18 to review and revise the student’s IEP and determine continuing placement. The parent and the private service provider were unable to come to agreement about the terms of the placement. The district did not convene another IEP team meeting to determine another placement. The student has not received any special education or related services since April 16, 2012.

A school district must provide FAPE to each child with a disability. A district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child with a disability, in part, by providing special education and related services. If a district is notified that the IEP team placement is no longer available, the district must reconvene the IEP team as soon as possible to develop a new placement and IEP in order to ensure the student is provided with FAPE with no interruption in services. The district failed to properly provide a current IEP, placement, and provide FAPE to a student with a disability.

In Wisconsin, an IEP team determines the special education placement for a child with a disability. When the student’s placement was changed on March 15 from fourteen hours to nine hours per week outside of an IEP team meeting in response to the parents concerns, the district failed to properly determine placement for the student.

Within 15 days from the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to develop a current IEP, determine placement, and determine compensatory services for the failure to provide services since April 16. The district must submit a copy of the student’s current IEP, placement, and consideration of compensatory services to the department. All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 10/15/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support