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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-045

On August 2, 2017, 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 2016-2017 school year:

  • Properly provided parents of a student with a disability required periodic reports on the progress the student made toward meeting annual individualized education program (IEP) goals;
  • Properly and timely conducted an annual review of the student’s IEP to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general education program;
  • Properly followed special education disciplinary requirements; and
  • Properly provided a copy of the procedural safeguards notice to the parent of a student with a disability.

The IEP for each student must include a statement of measurable annual goals, a description of how the student’s progress toward the annual goals will be measured, and must indicate when periodic reports on the progress the student is making toward meeting annual goals will be provided to the student’s parents. The student’s annual IEP, developed on May 11, 2016, indicates reports on the student’s progress toward the annual goals were to be reported to the parent “when all parent of non-disabled students are notified about progress (for example, mid-quarter, quarter, and semester reports.)” However, the IEP did not specifically identify when reports would be provided for the student. The lack of specificity caused confusion between the district staff and the parent, so the student’s parent was not aware of when to expect reports. The student’s IEP has been revised to include this information. Therefore, no student specific corrective action is required.

Each district must ensure IEP teams review each student’s IEP at least annually to determine whether the annual goals for the student are being achieved, and to revise the IEP as appropriate. The district acknowledges the student’s IEP team did not reconvene until May 23, 2017, which was not within the one year timeline. The district did not timely conduct an annual review of the student’s IEP. In September 2017, the district conducted corrective actions to ensure compliance with this requirement. The department will verify the district’s ongoing compliance with this requirement.

School districts must have procedures in place to record and count disciplinary removals including, but not limited to, expulsions, out of school suspensions, certain in-school suspensions, and de facto suspensions occurring when the school district removes a student from school or class for not following school rules but does not refer to it as a suspension. If a student with a disability has been removed for disciplinary reasons for more than ten cumulative school days in the same school year, the school district must provide educational services to the student during each subsequent period of removal. The services provided must enable the student to continue to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to make progress toward meeting the student’s IEP goals. If the district decides to change the student’s placement because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the school district must conduct a manifestation determination within ten school days from the date of that decision. A copy of the procedural safeguards notice must be provided when a decision is made to change the student’s placement because of a violation of the code of student conduct.

On May 10, 2017, the student was involved in an incident that lead to a five day suspension. The suspension, which was the first incident of disciplinary removal during the 2016-17 school year, was served on May 18, 19, 22, and 23. On May 23, the district conducted a pre-expulsion hearing and decided to proceed with an expulsion hearing before the school board. The student remained suspended until the expulsion hearing on June 7. The student began receiving educational services on the eighth day of removal, May 30. The district provided the parent with the procedural safeguards notice in person on May 23 and through the mail on May 31. The IEP team conducted a manifestation determination on June 6, which was within ten school days, and determined the behavior which lead to the disciplinary removal was not a manifestation of the student’s disability. The student was expelled on June 7, but continues to receive educational services in accordance with the IEP. The district properly followed special education disciplinary requirements and provided a copy of the procedural safeguards notice to the parent of a student with a disability.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST:BVH 10/2/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158