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IDEA Complaint Decision 12-051

On October 25, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Cudahy School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2012-13 school year, properly conducted an annual review of the student’s individualized education program (IEP), properly enabled a student with a disability to participate in a field trip, and improperly disclosed confidential student information from a student record.

Districts must ensure a student’s IEP team meets periodically, but at least once a year to determine if annual goals are being achieved and to revise the IEP as appropriate to address any expected lack of progress toward IEP goals and in the general curriculum, the results of a reevaluation, information provided by the student’s parent, the student’s anticipated needs, or other matters. The student’s IEP team met on October 4, 2011, to develop an IEP in effect from October 31, 2011, through October 30, 2012. The IEP team next met on October 23, 2012, to review and revise the student’s IEP. This was more than one year after the previous meeting. The district failed to properly conduct an annual review of the student’s IEP.

A class field trip was scheduled for October 16, 2012. On October 10, 2012, school staff met to discuss concerns about the student’s increasing behavior problems and whether the student should ride to the field trip on the bus with the other students. The district did not consider this to be an IEP team meeting and the parent was not invited to participate. The decision was made to include the student on the trip, but not on the bus with the other students because of potential safety concerns. The parent had agreed to chaperone the trip. During the October 10 meeting, it was decided the parent would also be asked to drive the student in the parent’s car, and if the parent was not willing, the district would make other arrangements to transport the student separately.

After the October 10 meeting, the parent was called. It is not clear if anyone spoke with the parent or if a voice message was left. There was a conversation with the parent the day before the trip and a note was sent home thanking the parent for “driving with the student” on the trip. The parent arrived in school the morning of the field trip. After everyone lined up, the teacher suggested the parent go ahead with the student in their car and wait behind the bus so the parent and student could follow the bus to the trip. The parent started to discuss this further. The teacher suggested they move into the hall where she reminded the parent about the decision that the parent would drive the student separately. The parent insisted she had agreed to serve as a chaperone and ride with the student, but not drive separately. The teacher directed the parent down the hall to discuss the situation with the principal. The parent went down the hall, into the school office and eventually into the principal’s office. The principal and parent were unable to resolve the situation and the parent ended up taking the student home. Neither the parent nor student attended the trip. There is no evidence district staff improperly disclosed confidential information from the student’s record during the events on October 16, 2012.

School districts must ensure to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are not disabled; and removal of students with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. The IEP must include an explanation of the extent, if any, to which a student will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in other activities with non-disabled peers. The student’s IEP in effect at the time indicated the student would participate in all activities with peers except when removed for specially designed social skills training for 30 minutes per week. The IEP did not include specially designed transportation or supplementary aids and services needed to allow the student to participate in field trips. While there is some confusion as to whether the parent agreed to transport the student, the parent could not be expected to provide specially designed transportation to a field trip when required to address a student’s disability-related need. The district improperly excluded the student from a field trip.

The student is no longer enrolled in the district and thus, there is no student specific corrective action required. Within 30 days of this decision, the district will develop a corrective action plan to ensure a student’s IEP team meets periodically, but at least once a year to review, and as appropriate, revise the student’s IEP; and will properly provide for the participation of students with disabilities in field trips.

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 12/18/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support