On June 12, 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 issues are whether the district, during the 2014-15 school year, properly implemented individualized education programs (IEPs) at the high school level regarding the provision of supplementary aids and services, properly enabled students with disabilities at the elementary school level to participate in field trips, and improperly restrained a student with a disability. This complaint involves three students who are designated in the decision as Student A, Student B, and Student C.
Properly Implemented IEPs Regarding the provision of Supplementary Aids and Services
Student A’s IEP specified Student A should take all tests and quizzes in the special education resource room when tests and quizzes were assigned in regular education classes. On one occasion during the 2014-15 school year the student was not permitted to take a test assigned in a regular education class in the resource room because the student’s regular education teacher did not believe the accommodation was necessary. A student’s IEP must be consistently implemented as written. The district did not properly implement Student A’s IEP regarding the provision of supplementary aids and services.
No student-specific corrective action is required. Within 30 days the district shall submit to the department a corrective action plan designed to ensure all regular education staff are informed of their responsibility to implement special education supplementary aids and services consistently and as written.
Properly Enabled Students with Disabilities to Participate in Field Trips
Students participating in the regular education curriculum, though in a different environment, must be provided access to all of the curriculum, including curricular field trips. Likewise, students with disabilities must be provided access to extracurricular and nonacademic activities available to their nondisabled peers. During the course of the department’s investigation, district staff indicated that Student B was not considered for participation in field trips on May 21, and June 2, 2015, as she was not in the regular education environment. The district did not properly enable Student B to participate in field trips.
Within 30 days, the district shall submit to the department evidence that Student B’s IEP team has considered any necessary accommodations or supports to facilitate her to participation in future field trips.
Student C’s IEP states the student would participate in all extracurricular and nonacademic activities. On June 3, 2015, the student’s class took a nonacademic field trip. Student C did not participate in the field trip due to behavioral and safety concerns. Students with disabilities must be provided access to extracurricular and nonacademic activities available to their nondisabled peers. Additional accommodations and supports, such as an aide, may be necessary to facilitate the student’s access to these activities. The district did not consider whether additional accommodations and supports could have facilitated the student’s participation in the field trip, and therefore did not properly enable Student C to participate in field trips.
Within 30 days the district shall submit to the department evidence that Student C’s IEP team has considered any necessary accommodations or supports necessary to facilitate her participation in future curricular or nonacademic field trips.
Within 30 days the district shall also submit a corrective action plan to ensure students with disabilities are provided the opportunity to participate in field trips.
Improperly Restrained a Student with a Disability
Late in 2014, Student C began having frequent outbursts which posed a safety risk to students and staff. In December 2015, Student C’s IEP team met to address her behavior, and developed a behavior intervention plan (BIP). The BIP prescribed a variety of positive behavior interventions. The IEP specifies the student will have access to a “calming room” when feeling anxious, frustrated, or stressed as determined by the student or staff. Neither the BIP nor the student’s IEP include a statement regarding the use of physical restraint or seclusion. All district staff have received training related to the use of seclusion and restraint as required by section 118.305(6) of the Wisconsin Statutes. The district provided the department copies of 17 reports of seclusion and/or restraint involving the student during the 2014-15 school year. In all documented instances of restraint, the restraint was necessary to prevent an imminent risk to the physical safety of the student or others, and was applied by staff members in accordance with their training. In interviews with the department, district staff conceded there was at least one occasion during which Student C was restrained that was not documented in a report, and in which the restraint technique used was not in accordance with their training (grabbing the student’s wrists).
Any time the use of seclusion or restraint may be reasonably anticipated for a student, the student’s IEP must include clear statements that the use of restraint and/or seclusion may be used as an intervention. Each time seclusion or restraint is used on a student at school, a written report must be prepared which describes the incident. In failing to include a clear statement in Student C’s IEP regarding the use of seclusion and restraint, failing to prepare a report each time Student C was restrained, and using a restraint technique not in accordance with prescribed techniques, the district improperly restrained Student C.
Within 30 days the district must submit to the department evidence Student C’s IEP has been amended to include a clear statement on the use of seclusion and/or restraint. Within 30 days the district shall submit to the department a corrective action plan designed to ensure written reports meeting the requirements of Wisconsin law are prepared for each incident of seclusion and restraint. The corrective action plan shall further include steps to ensure district staff understand their obligation to consistently comply with physical restraint procedures and techniques prescribed by their training.
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 8/11/2015
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support