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IDEA Complaint Decision 20-002

On January 13, 2020, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX (parents) against the XXXXX (district). This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2019-20 school year, properly implemented 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). A school district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to each student with a disability, in part, by providing special education and related services, as documented in the student’s IEP. (34 CFR §§ 300.320-300.324; Wis. Stat. § 115.78[2]). 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.

The IEP developed for the student who is the subject of this complaint on November 22, 2019, specified the student would be transported to and from school daily via cab. In January, the student’s parent contacted district staff to express concern that a different student was present in the cab with the student, causing emotional stress for the student. The district responded to the parent’s concerns on January 8, 2020, informing the parent that the other child would no longer be transported with the student. On January 3, 2020, the cab arrived at the student’s home at 8:00 a.m. and departed at 8:07 a.m. after the student did not appear. On January 7, 2020, the cab arrived at 8:00 a.m. at the student’s home and departed at 8:13 a.m. without the student after the student appeared but refused to buckle his seatbelt.

It is permissible for a district to provide specialized transportation with other students, implement reasonable pick-up times and maximum waiting times, and require that students wear seatbelts when providing specialized transportation services. The IEP in effect on the date this complaint was filed did not document any restrictions on other students being present during transportation or any special expectations to pick-up or wait times. As such, the district properly implemented the student’s IEP with respect to specialized transportation.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. This decision is final for the IDEA State Complaint process. These issues may be addressed through other dispute resolution options, including mediation and due process hearings. Visit the department's website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution for more information.

Sincerely,

//signed by BVH 3/10/20
Barbara Van Haren, PhD
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

For questions about this information, contact DPI Sped Team (608) 266-1781