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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-078

On October 24, 2018, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding this complaint. The issue is whether the district, since October 24, 2017, properly responded to the request from a parent of a student with a disability for a functional behavior assessment (FBA) and properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP).

When behavior interferes with a student’s learning or that of others, the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior. (34 CFR 300.324(2)(i)) A FBA is a continuous process for identifying, (1) the purpose or function of the behavior, (2) the variables that influence the behavior, and (3) components of an effective behavioral intervention plan (BIP). If the hypothesis about the function or purpose of a problem behavior is correct, it results in ideas for alternative skills or strategies that can be taught, as well as ideas for effective supports for the student. A FBA is required when a disciplinary change of placement occurs and the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the disability. A FBA is also required when an individualized education program (IEP) team determines the use of seclusion or restraint is reasonably anticipated. (34 CFR §§ 300.324, 300.530; Wis. Stats. § 115.787)

At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, the student experienced a difficult transition to the start of the school year. The intensity of some of the student’s behaviors increased. To support the student in demonstrating positive behaviors, school staff proposed starting a behavior point sheet. On September 6, 2018, the parent e-mailed school staff to request that a FBA be conducted to fully understand the function behind the behavior. School staff immediately initiated steps to complete the FBA. These steps included a review of existing data including academic, attendance, discipline, and special education evaluations. Observations were conducted of the student, and data was gathered through the use of an antecedent-behavior-consequence chart. School staff met with the parent on October 16th to gather additional information. School staff also obtained data by interviewing the student. The IEP team convened on October 22nd to review the initial FBA and BIP. As a result of this meeting, the team felt additional baseline data was needed for one of the proposed behavior goals. The FBA and BIP were subsequently finalized at a second IEP team meeting held on November 9, 2018. The district properly responded to the request from a parent of a student with a disability for a functional behavior assessment (FBA).

A district meets its obligation to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with a disability, in part, by providing special education and related services. Districts must provide FAPE to each student with a disability by developing a program based on the student’s unique needs that is reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress appropriate in light of the student’s circumstances, documenting that program in the IEP, and implementing the program as articulated in the IEP. Information about the student is shared and documented within the IEP, including the student’s strengths, the student’s current academic achievement and functional performance, special factors, concerns of the parent/family/student, and the effects of the disability(ies) on the student academic achievement and functional performance. In Wisconsin, the IEP team determines placement for a student with a disability. (34 CFR §§ 300.320-300.324; Wis. Stats. § 115.787)

During a behavioral incident on October 15, 2018, district staff utilized seclusion with the student. At the time of the seclusion, the student’s IEP included annual goals to address behavior, special education services to address the student’s behavioral needs and positive behavioral interventions and supports. Specific strategies and supports contained within the IEP include tangible rewards, foreshadowing, visual and auditory timers, social thinking curriculum, and social stories. Each annual goal was measurable, addressed the student’s needs, and included how and when the parent would be informed of progress. At the November 9, 2018, IEP team meeting, the positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports were continued along with the annual IEP goals, specialized instruction, and supplementary aids and services. In addition, the IEP team documented within the IEP the anticipated need for the use of seclusion and restraint. Documentation provided by the district and district staff interviews demonstrates the student received the positive behavioral interventions and supports, supplementary aids and services, and specialized instruction as outlined in the student’s IEP. The district properly implemented the student’s individualized education program.

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

//signed CST 12/20/2018
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support