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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-017

On February 23, 2018, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the Wisconsin Rapids School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2017-2018 school year, properly developed and implemented an individualized education plan (IEP) for student with a disability regarding transportation services.

A school district must provide each child with a disability a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). A school district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to each student with a disability, in part, by providing special education and related services as documented in the student’s IEP. In addition to transportation provided routinely to all students, some students with disabilities require transportation (often called “specialized transportation”) as a related service. Students with disabilities are entitled to transportation as a related service only if the IEP team has determined that transportation is necessary for the student to benefit from special education.

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, the student’s IEP included transportation as a related service, between school and home, twice daily. On February 28, the parent withdrew the student from the district and enrolled the student in a nonresident district through open enrollment. The nonresident district implemented the existing IEP in consultation with the parent. On March 8, the nonresident district convened an IEP team meeting to develop a new IEP for the student. The new IEP stated “the [the student] benefits from transportation between school and home to ensure safety.” However, due to the students’ participation in open enrollment, the related services section of the IEP stated transportation would be provided between the school and a designated drop-off point at the boundary of the nonresident district.

On April 3, 2017, the student re-enrolled and began attending a different school within the resident district. The district adopted the March 8 IEP from the nonresident district; however, the specialized transportation was described in a manner specific to the student’s situation in the nonresident district and could not be implemented as written. No specialized transportation was provided. On May 8, 2017, the IEP team met to develop the students’ annual IEP. The IEP team removed specialized transportation from the student’s IEP. On October 19, the student’s IEP was revised to include transportation to and from school. The student is currently open enrolled in a third school district and transportation is not necessary. The district acknowledges it did not properly develop and implement the student’s IEP regarding transportation services.

The district has provided reimbursement to the parent for the costs the parent incurred providing transportation to the student. The student is no longer enrolled in the school district. Since April 2018, the district has engaged in a number of activities to ensure IEP teams properly develop and implement IEPs regarding specialized transportation. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit documentation of these activities to the department.

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 4/23/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support