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IDEA Complaint Decision 15-036

On May 6, 2015, the Department of Public Instruction (department) 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 issue is whether the district, during the 2014-15 school year, properly reduced the student’s school day.

Students with disabilities must attend school for the same number of hours and minutes as non-disabled students, unless a student’s individualized education program (IEP) team determines otherwise based on a student’s unique, disability-related needs. When a student’s school day is shortened, the student’s IEP must include an explanation of why the student’s disability-related needs require a shortened day. In this case, the student’s school day was never shortened during the 2014-15 school year.

The student’s IEP in effect at the time of this complaint identifies behavior as a factor that impedes the student’s learning and that of others. The IEP provides positive interventions, supports, and strategies designed to address the student’s individualized behavioral needs, and includes a behavior intervention plan (BIP) based on a functional behavior assessment (FBA). The student’s BIP states that when the student’s behavior becomes potentially harmful, administration will be called and administration will determine whether to contact the parent.

During the school year, the student’s behavior became increasingly aggressive, and the district responded by conducting meetings with the parent to review the behavioral supports, providing additional staff training, and contracting with an outside consultant to observe the student. The outside consultant noted that staff had an understanding of the student and that the program in place for the student was appropriate. During the 2014-15 school year, the parent was contacted seven different times to pick up the student because of aggressive behaviors. Sending the student home on these occasions did not amount to shortening the student’s day or a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Even if the special education disciplinary requirements applied, a student may be removed for up to ten school days before services are required to be provided. In this case, the days of removal fell short of the ten days.

This concludes our review of this complaint. 

//signed CST 7/6/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support