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IDEA Complaint Decision 13-018

On April 12, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Waunakee School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, on April 17, 2012, properly changed placement for a student with a disability.

In Wisconsin, a student’s placement must be determined by the individualized education program (IEP) team. In making this determination, IEP teams must ensure to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are nondisabled. Placement decisions must be determined on an individual case-by-case basis depending on each child’s unique educational needs and circumstances and based on the student’s IEP. Placement does not refer merely to the building where the student receives the services, but also to the environment in which the child is receiving the services.

The student’s IEP in effect during the 2011-12 school year specified that the student was to receive 45 minutes of study hall and social skills instruction every day in the resource room. In April 2012, the parent sent the district a series of emails that were somewhat conflicting as to whether or not the parent wished the student to continue to receive the social skills instruction in the resource room. The district responded to the emails, trying to seek clarification, and in May 2012, the district suggested an IEP team meeting to address the issue. The parent responded by saying that there was not an immediate need to have an IEP team meeting. The district did not change the student’s placement in April 2012, but rather continued to provide the services in the resource room as specified in the IEP. Based upon our investigation, we conclude the district did not violate any state or federal special education laws related to change in placement.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 6/11/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support