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IDEA Complaint Decision 14-024

On May 5, 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 regarding that complaint. The issues covering the 2013-14 school year are identified below.

Properly developed an individualized education program (IEP) to address the behavioral needs of the student and timely provided a copy of the student’s IEP to the parent.

The IEP team conducted an annual review of the student’s IEP on September 19, 2013. The IEP team identified behavior as a factor that impeded the student’s learning, and the student’s behavioral needs are addressed throughout the IEP. In doing so, the district considered information provided by the parent. Discussion of the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance includes behavioral information. In this section, the IEP team notes that the student has more difficulties during unstructured settings, especially during recess where the majority of behavioral incidents occur. The IEP team also describes what the behavioral incidents look like and what skills the student is working on to improve the behavior. The IEP includes two annual goals related to behavior and a detailed behavior improvement plan (BIP). The BIP identifies the suspected functions of the behavior, known triggers, and the desired replacement behaviors. The BIP also identifies the student’s strengths and weaknesses in this area. Positive supports, strategies, and interventions include advance preparation for difficult situations, sensory breaks, problem solving, choices, and the use of a rating sheet with rewards. Social skill instruction is provided to work on solving peer disputes, reading social cues, emotional modulations, and understanding behavioral expectations. In developing the IEP, the IEP team considered the behavioral needs of the student.

The implementation date of the IEP was September 19, 2013, but the parent was not provided a copy of the IEP and notice of placement until November 12, 2013. Parents must be provided a copy of the IEP and notice of placement prior to implementation. No child-specific action is required because the parents have received the requirement information. Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must develop a corrective action plan to ensure IEPs are timely provided to parents.

Properly followed special education disciplinary requirements.

After a student with a disability has been removed for more than ten cumulative school days in a school year, the district must provide services to the extent necessary to enable the student to continue to participate appropriately in the general curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward achieving the student’s IEP goals. If the disciplinary removal will not result in a change of placement, the decision about the necessary services is made by school personnel, in consultation with at least one of the child’s teachers. School personnel determine where the services will be provided. The services may vary, depending on the needs of the student and the length of the removal. During the 2013-14 school year, the student received two half-day suspensions, and two full day suspensions, for a total of 3 days of disciplinary removals. The IEP provides for a ten-minute sensory break when the student is getting upset and allows for processing time after a behavioral incident. These interventions are part of the student’s IEP and are not considered disciplinary removals.  Because the student was not removed for more than ten school days, the district was not required to provide services during the periods of removal.

Implemented the IEP regarding communicating with parent.

The IEP in effect during the 2013-14 school year does not contain any provisions regarding daily communication with the parent. A rating sheet was used to communicate how the student met three goals during the day. These goals consisted of keeping hands and feet from others, following directions, and using respectful language. The student kept the rating sheet during the day and would give it to his teacher to complete after each class period. At the end of the day, the student would give it to district staff to record points for rewards. When district staff received the rating sheet from the student at the end of the day, staff would e-mail it to his parent and include information about homework assignments. If the rating sheet was not received from the student, staff generally reported that to the parent. Communication was made with the parent almost daily, and the majority of communications were made through e-mail.

Properly enabled the student to participate in a field trip.

In the spring of 2013, a class field trip was arranged for two nights and three days. Parents were informed of the field trip and permission slips were required. The district permitted partial attendance, and some students selected to not attend the full three days. The district made the full field trip available to the student, and several e-mails were sent regarding the field trip in an attempt to make arrangements with possible suggestions, including having a district staff member accompany the student and having the student attend for only one day. In an e-mail to the parent, a district staff member stated that attending the field trip was important because it was part of the curriculum. The student was sick during the days of the field trip and ultimately, the permission slip was not turned in. The district properly enabled the student to participate in the field trip.

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 6/30/2014
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support