On February 12, 2016, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in June 2015, properly ended the special education eligibility of a student through graduation with a regular high school diploma.
The student was a senior in high school during the 2014-15 school year. On September 26, 2014, the student’s IEP team met to develop an IEP for the coming school year. The plan included seven goals addressing school behavior, emotional behavior, written language, reading, study skills, and postsecondary transition. The IEP team also developed a postsecondary transition plan for the student. The plan included measurable postsecondary goals in the area of education and employment, and identified a course of study and transition services selected to support achievement of the student’s postsecondary goals. The student’s postsecondary goals were to attend a technical college and possibly become a barber. The team determined the student did not require postsecondary independent living goals.
On June 9, 2015, the student’s IEP team met to consider whether the student was ready for graduation. The team determined the student had made progress towards his IEP goals despite some attendance and academic achievement issues during the final semester. The team also concluded the student had met district graduation requirements, and was therefore ready to graduate. The parent disagreed with the IEP team’s conclusion as the student had not met all of his IEP goals. In response to the parent’s concerns about the student’s readiness for graduation, the IEP team met again on June 12. At that meeting the IEP team agreed the student would participate in the graduation ceremony, but not receive a diploma and that the district would provide extended school year (ESY) services to the student designed to prepare him for enrollment at a technical college in the fall. On June 25, the IEP team met again to consider graduation and ESY. The graduation determination was affirmed and ESY services were revised to provide for reading instruction 1.5 hours per week from June 29, 2015, to July 31, 2015. The parent continued to disagree with the graduation decision.
The district issued a notice of graduation and summary of performance on June 29, and subsequently provided the student a regular high school diploma. The district made ESY services available to the student at his home as scheduled.
A student’s eligibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ends with the receipt of a regular high school diploma. The criteria for receipt of a regular high school diploma are established by Wisconsin law and local school district policy. The IDEA does not make achievement of IEP goals a prerequisite for award of a regular high school diploma, rather the IEP team must consider whether the student has substantively completed the goals and objectives of the IEP before issuing a notice of graduation. While the student did not achieve each of the annual goals specified for the senior year of high school, the student did meet requirements for a regular high school diploma, and substantively completed the goals and objectives of the IEP. The district properly ended the special education eligibility for the student through graduation with a regular high school diploma.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
//signed CST 4/11/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support