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IDEA Complaint Decision 14-014

On March 17, 2014, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Kenosha Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in the fall of 2013, properly denied a parent’s request for transportation reimbursement.

At the beginning of each school year, each local educational agency (LEA) must have an individualized education program (IEP) in effect for each child with a disability, and special education and related services must be made available to the student in accordance with the student’s IEP. Transportation is a related service. IEP teams are responsible for determining if transportation is required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education and related services, and how the transportation services should be implemented.

To encourage early resolution of issues, federal and state regulations mandate that Wisconsin offer mediation to parents and LEAs as a voluntary initial process for the resolution of special education disputes. The mediator will require the parties to sign an agreement to mediate which contains a confidentiality provision. If the parties resolve the dispute, the agreement is in writing and is legally binding.

On September 23, 2013, the parent requested reimbursement for providing transportation during the previous school year. The parent provided the transportation pursuant to a mediation agreement where the parties agreed that the student would attend a school outside of the attendance area if the parents provided transportation. The department does not in general enforce mediation agreements, and state and federal law specify that mediation agreements are enforceable through the State or Federal court system. If the parent believes that the mediation agreement includes reimbursement costs for transportation, this must be pursued through the State or Federal court system.

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

//signed CST 5/2/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support