On May 8, 2019, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (complainant) against the XXXXX (district). The issue is whether the district, during the 2018-2019 school year, properly responded to allegations of bullying of a student with a disability.
School districts must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each student with a disability by developing a program that meets the student’s unique needs, documenting that program in the student’s individualized education program (IEP), and implementing the program as articulated in the IEP. School districts have an obligation to ensure that a student with a disability, who is the target of bullying behavior, continues to receive FAPE in accordance with the student’s IEP. The district should, as part of its appropriate response to the bullying, convene the student’s 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 FAPE. If the IEP is no longer designed to provide FAPE, the IEP team must then determine to what extent additional or different special education or related services are needed to address the student’s individual needs, and revise the IEP accordingly (OSERS Dear Colleague Letter October 21, 2014).
The IEP in effect for the student who is the subject of this complaint during the relevant time period was developed on November 11, 2018. The IEP indicates the student has disability-related needs in the areas of reading decoding skills, math computation, and receptive and expressive communication. To address these needs, the IEP includes individualized goals, and services including specially designed instruction. While the IEP does not identify any disability-related needs in functional skills areas such as behavior or attention, the IEP includes supplementary aids and services to support the student in completing tasks.
On May 7, 2019, another student became aggressive toward the student on the playground. Following this incident, the student’s parent became aware the student had previous conflict with the other student. On May 8, 2019, the parent filed this complaint. Upon receiving this complaint and in accordance with district policy, district staff initiated a bullying investigation into the parent’s concerns. The district determined the conflict between the students was not bullying, however, the principal followed up with the students.
The student’s IEP team met on May 29, 2019. The invitation to the IEP team meeting indicates discussing the parent’s concerns about bullying was one purpose of the meeting. The student’s parent did not attend the meeting. The team reviewed the results of the district’s bullying investigation. The team also reviewed the student’s goals, disability-related needs, services and placement, and determined the student’s needs had not changed and the IEP continued to be designed to provide the student FAPE. The district properly responded to allegations of bullying involving a student with a disability.
This concludes our review of this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process.
//signed BVH 7/3/2019
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support