On November 26, 2019, 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 that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2019-20 school year, properly developed the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability regarding specialized transportation.
A school district must provide each child with a disability a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). 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. A school district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child with a disability, in part, by providing the special education services specified in the student’s IEP. In addition to transportation provided routinely to all students, some students with disabilities require transportation (often called “specialized transportation”) as a related service. Students with disabilities are entitled to transportation as a related service only if the IEP team has determined that transportation is necessary for the student to benefit from special education. (34 CFR §§ 300.320-300.324, 300.34[c]).
The IEP in effect for the 2019-20 school year included specialized transportation to and from school each day. On May 30, 2019, the parent completed a parent transfer request for her child to attend a different school within the resident district. On June 4, the transfer request was approved and the district sent a letter to the parent stating the parent was responsible for transportation to and from school each day. On September 3, the parent called the district to inquire about transportation for the student. The district responded to the parent and informed the parent that the in-district transfer policy does not include transportation to and from school. On October 29, the IEP team met and the parent stated that transportation was listed in the student’s IEP and transportation was not being provided as written. The IEP team removed specialized transportation from the student’s IEP due to the district’s intradistrict transfer policy, not because the student no longer required the service. The district acknowledges it did not properly implement the student’s IEP regarding transportation services. Since receiving the complaint, the district is actively working to arrange specialized transportation for the student. The IEP team is scheduled to meet on January 27, 2020, to review and revise the student’s IEP to include specialized transportation as a related service and determine whether compensatory services are required as a result of not properly implementing the IEP as written at the start of the school year.
Within 10 days of the January 27 IEP team meeting, the district must submit a copy of the student’s IEP to the department. Within 30 days of the date of the decision, the district must review and revise the district’s transportation policy as it relates to intradistrict transfers and the implementation of IEPs, specific to specialized transportation, and submit documentation of the revisions to the department.
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 this complaint. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolutions, including mediation and due process hearings. Visit the department’s website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution for more information.
//signed by BVH 1/23/20
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support