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IDEA Complaint Decision 18-088

On December 4, 2018 (form dated November 27, 2018), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the summer of 2018, properly determined the student’s placement in the least restrictive environment; properly afforded the parent of a student with a disability meaningful opportunity to participate in a meeting of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team; and properly provided the parent a copy of the student’s IEP prior to its implementation.

To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities must be educated with children who are not disabled. Special classes or other removal from the regular education environment must occur only if the student’s needs cannot be met satisfactorily in the regular education environment with the use of supplementary aids and services. A student’s IEP team must determine the least restrictive environment for the student and ensure the IEP clearly describes the extent to which the student will not participate in the regular education environment. (34 CFR § 300.322; Wis. Stats. 115.78 (3) (d)) School districts must take steps to ensure one or both parents of a student with a disability are present at each IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate by other means. The district must notify the parents of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to attend and must schedule the meeting at a mutually agreeable time and place. (34 CFR §§ 300.114-300.117 and 300.501 (3); Wis. Stats. §§ 115.78 (2) (c) and 115.79 (c)-(d)) Any time a school district proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of a free, appropriate public education to a student with a disability, the district must provide the parents prior written notice including, if applicable, a copy of the student’s IEP, a reasonable time before the any proposed changes take effect. (34 CFR §§ 300.322 (f) and 300.503)

Prior to the events giving rise to this complaint, the student had an IEP in effect that was developed on February 28, 2018. The student’s IEP team met on April 25, 2018, to review and revise the IEP regarding positive behavior supports and discuss the student’s current placement. The IEP team reviewed the students behavior intervention plan (BIP) and behavioral data. The team determined that student’s behaviors, including verbal aggression and physical behaviors toward other students and staff, had increased since the last IEP meeting. The IEP team determined the student needed additional instruction to develop self-regulation skills and reinforcement of safe behaviors. The team determined the student needed additional services and supports including a smaller setting with a behavior program, more one-on-one behavior support, and a smaller class size. Since the student’s school of attendance did not offer a program that provides these services, the team discussed changing the student’s school. The student’s parent did not agree with changing the student’s school at that time. The IEP team determined they would meet again in June to review the student’s progress and reconsider changing the student’s school. A district staff member provided the parent with a list of schools with current openings that provided the supports and services the student needed. The student’s parent agreed to tour the schools prior to the June IEP team meeting.

On June 4, 2018, the IEP team met again to review and revise the student’s IEP, including the student’s BIP, and reconsider changing the student’s school of attendance. The IEP team reviewed current information about the student, including the number of times the student left the classroom, number of office referrals, academic achievement data, suspensions, progress on the student’s specialized behavior chart, and classroom observations. The student’s behavioral challenges continued despite the supports and services in place. The IEP team was particularly concerned about the amount of time the student was missing instruction due to behavioral incidents and the resulting negative impact on the student’s academic progress. The IEP determined that the student required a more restrictive environment and changed the student’s placement to a different school that offered a behavior program within the district. The parent disagreed with changing the student’s school. The IEP team meeting concluded. Believing the meeting was not over, the parent asked a district staff member to stop the meeting. The district staff member explained to the parent that the meeting already concluded prior to the parent’s request to stop the meeting. The district staff member told the parent that upon the parent’s request, the IEP team meeting could reconvene prior to the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. The placement notice indicated the IEP was to be provided to the parent on June 5, 2018, with implementation on June 12, 2018. Staff interviews confirmed the student’s IEP was sent to the parent via US mail on June 5, 2018.

The parent never contacted the district to reconvene the IEP team meeting and withdrew the student from the district prior to the start of the 2018-2019 school year. The district properly provided the parent a copy of the student’s IEP prior to its implementation, properly provided parents of a student with a disability meaningful opportunity to participate in the development of the student’s IEPs, and properly determined the student’s placement in the least restrictive environment.

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


//signed BVH 1/29/2019
Barbara Van Haren, PhD, Director
Special Education Team
Division for Learning Support
BVH:sao
For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781