You are here

IDEA Complaint Decision 18-031

On March 22, 2018, the department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parent) and her attorney, XXXXX, against the Milwaukee Public School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether the district, between March 22, 2017, and April 24, 2017:
  • Properly responded to alleged incidents of bullying of a student with a disability;
  • Properly determined the student’s placement; and
  • Properly developed a student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding positive behavioral supports and interventions and a post-secondary transition plan.

School districts have an obligation to ensure that a student with a disability who is the target of bullying behavior continues to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in accordance with his or her IEP. The district should, as part of its appropriate response to the bullying, convene the IEP team to determine whether, as a result of the effects of the bullying, the student’s needs have changed such that the IEP is no longer designed to provide a meaningful educational benefit.

The parent filed a formal complaint with the district on April 5, 2017, alleging the student was being provoked by a group of students and that the student was contemplating suicide. The principal contacted the parent on April 7 to arrange a meeting to discuss the parent’s concerns, and a meeting was held on April 17. At the meeting district staff listened to the parent’s concerns and noted the incidents in question were primarily taking place in the cafeteria. It was agreed the student would check-in with the school psychologist at the end of each school day to address any concerns. Following the meeting, district staff investigated the parent’s concerns, but were unable to substantiate the allegations. An IEP team meeting was scheduled for May 5, 2017, to further discuss the parent’s concerns. On April 24, 2017, the parent enrolled the student in a private school. In promptly addressing the parent’s concerns, and scheduling an IEP team meeting to discuss further, the district responded appropriately to alleged incidents of bullying of the student. The district was not obligated to conduct the meeting once the parent had placed the student in a private school.

A student’s education placement is determined by the student’s IEP team. The student’s placement must be determined at least annually and be based on the student’s IEP. The placement determination must be made in conformity with the least-restrictive environment (LRE) provisions of state and federal special education law.

In March 2017, district staff discussed with the parent the possibility of increasing the student’s time in the regular education environment for the coming school year, and the parent inquired about the possibility of having the student placed at a smaller high school. These placement issues were to be discussed at the IEP team meeting scheduled for May 5. The district properly determined the student’s placement through April 24, 2017, when the parent removed the student from the school district.

A student’s IEP team must identify whether a student’s behavior interferes with his or her learning or the learning of other students. In instances when the student’s behavior does interfere with his or her learning or the learning of other students, the IEP team must specify positive behavior supports and interventions to address the student’s behavior. A student’s IEP team must develop a postsecondary transition plan for any student 14 years old or older. The transition plan must be based on age-appropriate assessments, include postsecondary goals, transition services, and a course of study.

The student’s IEP in effect between March 22 and April 24, 2017, indicated the student’s behavior did not interfere with her learning or that of other students. District staff indicated during interviews that the student’s behavior during this time did not differ markedly from the behavior considered when the student’s IEP was developed. A postsecondary transition plan for the student was included as part of the IEP that was in effect. The plan, as documented in the student’s IEP, was based on age-appropriate transition assessments and included postsecondary goals, transition services, and a course of study. The district properly developed the student’s IEP regarding positive behavioral supports and interventions and a post-secondary transition plan.

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

//signed CST 5/21/2018                                                          
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support
For questions about this information, contact Margaret Resan (608) 267-9158