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IDEA Complaint Decision 16-035

On April 18, 2016 (form dated April 13, 2016), 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, beginning April 18, 2015, improperly shortened the school day of a student with a disability.

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 the length of a student’s school day must be modified based on a student’s unique, disability-related needs. A school district may not reduce a student’s instructional time by starting the student’s school day later or releasing the student earlier than nondisabled peers in order to accommodate a transportation schedule.

The instructional day at the student’s school ends at 3:19 p.m. However, the bus, which the student rode, picked the student up early, at 3:08 p.m. This was not to accommodate the student’s unique disability-related needs, but rather was part of the transportation schedule.  In March 2016, a district staff member became aware of the early pick-up time, and notified the bus company. The schedule was corrected, and on March 28th, the bus began picking the student up at the end of the school day.

The district improperly shortened the student’s school day to accommodate the transportation schedule. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting to determine compensatory services to be provided to the student based upon the amount of missed instructional time since April 18, 2015. The district must submit a copy of the IEP to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting. In addition, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department the names of all students whose school days were shortened to accommodate transportation, and a plan to determine whether compensatory services are required for each affected student based upon the amount of missed instructional time since April 18, 2015. All determinations regarding compensatory education must be completed by October 1, 2016. Documentation of the compensatory education determination for each affected student must be submitted to the department no later than October 15, 2016. The district has changed transportation schedules to ensure all students attend the full school day, therefore no further district-level corrective action is required.

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 6/15/2016
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support