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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-075

On October 31, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2016-2017 school year, properly provided special education and/or services.

A local educational agency (LEA) must make available free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. The duties to ensure FAPE include ensuring special education and related services are provided in conformity with students’ individualized education programs (IEPs) at no cost to student’s parents.

The district has a shared agreement with a local health care facility to jointly operate a program called “Fresh Start.” The Fresh Start program provides both educational services and clinical programming. The district agreement with the healthcare facility indicates the district provides both transportation and educational services to students admitted to the program. The educational services are provided by district-employed regular and special education teaching staff. The agreement further indicates the health care facility provides clinical resources and clinical programming. The personnel providing clinical services are employees of the healthcare facility. Although district staff can refer any student to be considered for admittance to the Fresh Start program, students are only admitted if a physician (or other healthcare provider) determines that they meet the agreed upon criteria for admission for day treatment or intensive outpatient levels of care.

The student’s IEP in effect at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year was developed on August 29, 2016, and services were to be provided from September 1, 2016, through November 8, 2016, at a district elementary school. On October 11, 2016, the student was involved in a behavioral incident and received a two day out-of-school suspension. The Behavior Detail Report states that the student was placed on medical leave under the care of the student’s physician, and that the student’s physician placed the student in Fresh Start, effective October 18, 2016. On October 14, the district elementary principal sent an email communication to district staff directing the staff to hold an IEP team meeting as soon as possible to address the student’s educational needs based on the parent’s telephone communication that the student would be at the medical facility starting October 17, 2016. Between October 12 and October 21, 2016, the student was excused from school attendance due to medical reasons based on a letter from the student’s physician.

On October 21, 2016, the student was admitted to the Fresh Start program. On October 21 and 26, the student’s parent signed permission forms to share information between the healthcare facility, where the district collaborative alternative classroom program is located, and district staff. On November 2, 2016, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP in light of the student’s placement by the physician in the healthcare facility day program. The IEP team determined the student would receive “specialized instruction in behavior and social skills concurrent with academics, one time per day for 140 minutes in the Fresh Start program located at the hospital.” In addition, the team determined that while the student was admitted to the Fresh Start program, consult services for occupational therapy and school counseling would be provided. These educational services were provided by the district and addressed the educational component of the program.

On December 13, 2016, a healthcare provider electronically signed a discharge summary for the student. The district provided special education and related services in conformity with the students’ IEP at no cost to student’s parents while the student was at the health care facility. As indicated in the agreement between the district and the health care facility regarding the Fresh Start program, the district is not responsible for providing clinical programming.

This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process.

//signed CST 12/29/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158