On March 10, 2016, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the XXXXX School District. On April 12, 2016, the department received notification that the parties agreed to participate in mediation and requested that the 60-day timeline to complete the complaint investigation be extended. The department was subsequently notified that the mediation was not successful, and that the complainant wished to proceed with the complaint. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2015-16 school year, properly conducted a manifestation determination and properly determined and provided services for the student following a disciplinary change of placement.
A manifestation determination is required within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct. An expulsion is considered a disciplinary change of placement. In determining whether the conduct is a manifestation of the student’s disability, the LEA, the parent, and relevant members of the student’s IEP team (as determined by the parent and the LEA) must review all relevant information in the student’s file, including the student’s IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents. The conduct must be considered a manifestation of the student’s disability if the conduct was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student’s disability or if the conduct in question was the direct result of the LEA’s failure to implement the IEP. If the conduct is not a manifestation of the student’s disability, the student may remain in the removed setting but must continue to receive educational services so as to enable the student to continue to participate in the general education curriculum and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the student’s IEP. When there is a disciplinary change of placement, the IEP team determines the services that the student will receive.
On January 26, 2016, the student engaged in behavior that violated the school’s drug and alcohol policy, and the student was recommended for expulsion on that date. On February 8, which was within the 10 school days, an IEP team meeting was held to conduct a manifestation determination. The student’s parents, special education teacher, an LEA representative, a general education teacher, and the case manager attended the IEP meeting. The IEP team considered all relevant information, including recent medical information provided by the student’s parents.
The IEP team determined the student’s conduct, which resulted in the disciplinary action, was not a manifestation of the student’s disability. The IEP team found that the conduct was not impulsive, but rather reflected planning, execution and follow-through, with attention to detail. On February 22, an expulsion hearing was held and it was decided on February 24, that the district would move forward with an expulsion. On March 4, an IEP team meeting was held and the team determined the student would receive services beginning on March 7 at the district’s alternative school until January 2017. Prior to March 7, the student received full day services at the school setting. At the alternative school, the student received services so as to enable the student to continue to participate in the general education curriculum and to make progress toward meeting the IEP goals. The services included academic learning, credit attainment, and support for social/emotional skill development and community engagement. In accordance with the terms of the expulsion order, the student was granted early reinstatement beginning the summer of 2016. The district properly conducted a manifestation determination and properly determined and provided services for the student when there was a disciplinary change of placement.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 7/13/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support