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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-032

On March 22, 2018 (form dated March 20, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the Waukesha School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, since March 22, 2017:
  • Properly developed the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability; and
  • Properly responded to alleged incidents of bullying involving the student.

Properly developed the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability

School districts must develop an IEP for each student with a disability for whom they are responsible. The IEP must include a statement of the student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. The IEP team must identify how the student's disability affects the student's involvement and progress in the general curriculum, develop measurable annual goals designed to meet the student's disability-related needs, and align special education services to enable the student to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals, make progress in the general curriculum and be educated with nondisabled students. The IEP must include clear descriptions of the amount, frequency, location and duration of services so the local educational agencies (LEA’s) commitment of resources is clear to the parent and all involved in developing and implementing the IEP.

On May 30, 2017, the student’s IEP team met to review and revise the IEP for the 2017-18 school year. From that IEP team meeting, at least two different draft IEPs were developed. The first IEP provided to the department, with an implementation date of June 6, 2017, to May 29, 2018, did not include measurable annual goals, the special factor section was not completed, and no specially designed instruction was identified.

The second IEP provided to the department, with an implementation date of September 28, 2016, to September 20, 2017, included the missing information noted above, but did not include the correct implementation dates. The IEP team met on March 26, 2018, to review and revise the IEP, and the IEP that was developed includes the required information. The district did not properly develop the student’s IEP at the May 2017 IEP team meeting.

Properly responded to alleged incidents of bullying involving the student

Each school board must adopt a policy prohibiting bullying by students. School districts have an obligation to ensure that a student with a disability who is suspected of bullying other students or is the target of bullying continues to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to meet their unique needs in accordance with their IEP. When a student has been subjected to bullying, 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 meaningful educational benefit.

 In February 2018, the parent expressed concerns about the student being bullied at a meeting with district staff. District staff investigated the allegations. A staff member sent correspondence to at least five other staff members who worked directly with the student to inform them of the parent’s concerns, and to ask staff if they had any knowledge of incidents that occurred while the student was under their supervision. Staff reported that they did not observe incidents of bullying and the student did not provide specific names of alleged bullies. Consequently, staff were unable to substantiate any of the allegations. The student requested to have a schedule change to both avoid one student in particular and to have classes with a friend. Staff facilitated a change in the student’s schedule to accommodate the request, and the student switched two classes. The district properly responded to alleged incidents of bullying involving the student.

Within 30 days from the date of this decision, the district must convene an IEP team meeting to consider compensatory services for failing to properly develop the student’s IEP at the May 30, 2017, meeting, and submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure that student IEPs contain complete information and accurately reflect dates of implementation.

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 the complaint. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolutions, including mediation and due process hearings. For more information, visit the department’s website at or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.

//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