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IDEA Complaint Decision 14-004

On January 22, 2014, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the XXXXX School District. This is the department’s decision on the complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2013-14 school year, properly determined the student’s placement and properly developed an individualized education program (IEP) to address the student’s behavioral needs.

In Wisconsin, the IEP team must determine a student’s placement. The placement determination must be based on the child’s individual needs as specified in the IEP. Removal from the regular education environment should only occur if the nature or severity of a student’s disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. A student’s IEP team must also consider whether a student’s behavior impedes his or her learning or that of others, and if so consider positive behavioral interventions and supports to address the behavior.

The student was enrolled for the 2013-14 school year at the high school, participating in both the special education and regular education environments. In late September, the student engaged in activity in the community setting which led to the student’s arrest and hospitalization. In response, the student’s IEP team met on October 9, to review the student’s IEP and placement. After reviewing the student’s current behavioral needs, the IEP team, which included the parent, determined the student needed an intense level of supervision to protect the student and other students due to the student’s significant mental health concerns. The IEP team further determined the level of supervision required could not adequately be provided at the high school or other settings within district schools. The IEP team concluded an alternative school would be an appropriate placement.

The student’s IEP team met again on January 20, 2014, to review the student’s IEP and placement. The parent was unable to attend the meeting, but asked the district to move forward with the meeting. At the meeting, the IEP team reviewed the concerns provided by the parent prior to the meeting. The parent indicated she felt the alternative school was not an appropriate placement as it was too far away from the student’s home school, and she feared for the safety of the student and the driver during the long drive. The IEP team concluded that the student’s mental health status still required the close supervision only practicable at the alternative school. The IEP team determined the safety of the student and driver had been adequately addressed through the safety plan in place for vehicle drivers, the availability of emergency equipment in the vehicle, and the availability of a cellular telephone to the driver at all times. The IEP team considered the student’s behavior and its impact on his learning, developed annual behavior goals for the student, and included related services to address the student’s processing and sensory needs in the IEP. In addition, supports and interventions were developed to reinforce the student’s positive behaviors. These supports and interventions included weekly goal setting by the student and school staff and focusing on specific behavior categories in the areas of conflict, language, attitude, work, and thinking. Progress towards goals is regularly reviewed and discussed with the student and rewarded as appropriate.

The district properly determined the student’s placement and properly developed an IEP to meet the student’s behavioral needs.

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

//signed CST 3/18/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support