On March 12, 2018 (letter dated March 7, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2017-2018 school year, properly followed transfer procedures and provided services when a student with a disability transferred from another Wisconsin local educational agency (LEA).
When a child with a disability who has an individualized education program (IEP) in effect transfers from another school district, the receiving school district must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) without delay, which includes the provision of services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous school district. This must be done in consultation with the parents and until such time as the school district conducts an evaluation, if determined to be necessary, and develops and implements a new IEP, if appropriate. The school district may also choose to adopt the evaluation and/or IEP from the previous school district. The receiving school district must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the child’s records. These requirements are to ensure there is no interruption of special education and related services.
Since October 2017, the student was receiving medical treatment in a residential facility. When he was released from the facility, the student was placed in a group home, and on February 20, 2018, staff from the group home enrolled him in the new district. District staff promptly contacted the student’s previous school district to obtain the student’s records, which were provided. During conversations exchanged between the previous district and the receiving district, information about the student’s behavior and safety concerns was shared. Shortly thereafter, the district was informed by the student’s juvenile intake worker that there was an order from a neighboring county’s district attorney’s office preventing the student from attending school in the previous school district. District staff attempted to verify this with the district attorney’s office and obtain additional information, however, they did not receive a response. The district scheduled an informal meeting between district staff and group home staff to establish a plan, including a start date. The informal meeting took place on March 5th and the designated start date was March 12th. On March 7th, group home staff brought the student to school, but the student was sent home because district staff did not have the resources to provide services and support on that day.
The student’s first day of school was March 12th. The IEP from the previous district included a shortened school day and offsite placement during periods of the school day where the student worked one-on-one with staff. The district provided one-on-one support with a special education teacher in a conference room on the days the student attended school between March 12th and March 23rd. The teacher conducted informal assessments to gather information, identify the student’s academic present levels, and begin the process of developing a relationship with the student. On March 21st, the student expressed suicidal thoughts. District staff communicated this information to group home staff, and the student did not return to school the following day. An IEP meeting was scheduled for March 23rd. District staff, group home staff, and the student’s parent participated in the meeting. During the meeting, the IEP team determined that the student would receive homebound instruction and his placement would be at the group home.
The district did not properly follow transfer procedures and provide services when a student with a disability transferred from another Wisconsin LEA. There was a delay of 12 school days between the time the student was enrolled until his first day of attendance. Although the district was able to demonstrate reasonable safety concerns, academic services and supports should have been provided to the student without delay, even if that meant at a different location until the district received more information about the student that would inform placement.
By May 29, 2018, the district must convene an IEP team meeting to determine compensatory services for the 12 school days the student did not receive services. Additionally, at this IEP team meeting, the team must develop a plan for the student’s return to a full school day in a less restrictive setting, including a plan to meet more frequently to review student data and placement.
The revised IEP should document the plan. The district must submit a copy of the IEP to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting. The district must, within 30 days from the date of this decision, also submit a corrective action plan to ensure that the required transfer procedures are followed when a student transfers from another district.
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. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolutions, including mediation and due process hearings. For more information, visit the department’s website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.
//signed CST 5/11/2018