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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-048

On July 3, 2017 (form dated June 29, 2017), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) 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, during the 2016-2017 school year, properly enabled a student with a disability to participate in an extracurricular activity.

Districts must take steps to afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities. This includes the provision of supplementary aids and services, as determined by the individualized education program (IEP) team. All IEP teams must determine whether each student needs supplementary aids and services to access noncurricular and extracurricular activities, describe those services with sufficient clarity, and ensure the services are provided as described in the student’s IEP when the student participates in such activities.

During the IEP meeting on March 2, 2017, the student’s parent requested the IEP team’s assistance in arranging for the student to participate in a support role with the high school varsity athletic team. In the previous school year, the student’s participation was coordinated by a staff member who served on the IEP team. The student’s IEP in effect at that time did not require supplementary aids or services for the student to participate in this activity. At the time of the March 2 IEP meeting, the staff member who coordinated the student’s participation with the coach the year before was no longer on the IEP team. Another staff member on the IEP team agreed to contact the former IEP team member to see if that person would communicate with the coach of the athletic team and arrange for the student’s participation in the upcoming season. On a few separate occasions, the parent contacted IEP team members to inquire about the status of the coach’s decision. Staff members were unable to reach the coach, and the sport’s team season began without the student’s participation. On May 23, 2017, the parent sent an email to the IEP team, which expressed the parent’s disappointment about not receiving a response regarding the student’s participation. On May 24, 2017, a school staff member on the IEP team replied to that parent’s email and stated that the student’s participation on the athletic team is not an IEP issue.

Although the student’s participation during the 2015-2016 school year was facilitated by a staff member on the IEP team, the IEP team did not determine the student’s participation in this activity was necessary for the student to receive FAPE. As such, the IEP team was not obligated to take additional steps to secure the student’s participation on the athletic team. The student’s IEP team determined the student does not require supplementary aids and services to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular activities. The district did not improperly exclude the student from participating in extracurricular activities during the 2016-2017 school year.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed by CST 8/29/17
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158