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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-054

On August 22, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issue is whether the district, beginning on August 22, 2016, properly enabled a student with a disability to participate in extracurricular activities.

The district operates an after school program at one of its elementary schools. Program rules require that 51% of the students that attend the program come from the elementary school that hosts the program, and the program’s focus is grades K-3. Older students and students from the district's other elementary schools can participate in the program on a first-come first-served basis. For the 2017-18 school year there were 15 spots available for fourth and fifth grade students in the program. The student in this case will be enrolled in the fourth grade at one of the district's other elementary schools. The parent submitted an application to the program on July 27, 2017, and the district subsequently put the student on a waiting list as the 15 available spots had been filled. The district properly followed its procedures in determining whether the student could participate in this program.

A Boys and Girls Club (Club), a non-profit organization not affiliated with the school district, began operations in the community in September 2017. As part of its services, the Club offers after school programming. The district determined the Club is not an extracurricular program of the district and has informed the parent that if the student participates in the Club’s program, the district will not provide individualized education program (IEP) services for the student at the Club.

Districts must take steps, including the provision of supplementary aids and services determined appropriate and necessary by the student’s IEP team, to afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in extracurricular services and activities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) permits districts to apply the same participation criteria for extracurricular activities to students with disabilities as it does to students without disabilities. Likewise IDEA does not require a district to provide IEP services in activities not sponsored by the district. In this case, the district has publicized the Club, district transportation will drop-off students at the Club as part of regular after school bus routes, and the district administrator serves on the Club’s board of directors. However, the Club has no contract with the district, is located in a non-school district facility, and receives no funding of any kind from the district. Students and families can elect to participate in the Club on their own accord and are not subject to school policies when participating in Club activities. The Club is not a district sponsored activity, and consequently the district is not required to provide IEP services to the student if the student participates in Club activities.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 10/6/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158