On January 4, 2022 (form dated November 20, 2021), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from (complainant) against the (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, in December 2021, properly enabled a student with a disability to participate in an extracurricular activity and whether the district, during the 2021-22 school year, properly responded to allegations of bullying of a student with a disability.
Whether the district properly enabled a student with a disability to participate in an extracurricular activity.
Each school district must take steps to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities. Each student’s individualized education program (IEP) team must determine whether the student requires supplementary aids and services in order to participate. Supplementary aids and services must be described in a manner that makes the district’s commitment of resources clear to the student’s parent and all involved in developing and implementing the IEP. The description of the amount, frequency, location, and duration must be appropriate to the specific service. In providing or arranging for the provision of nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, including meals, recess periods, and other services and activities, each public agency must ensure that each child with a disability participates with nondisabled children in these services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of that child. 34 CFR § 300.117.
In December 2021, the complainant received an email from the student’s case manager asking if the student was going to attend a movie event at school to be held the next afternoon. The complainant responded that same evening by telling the case manager that the student could attend if the student was supervised. The school attempted to find someone to supervise the student but was not able to before the end of the school day. District staff believed the student would be able to attend the movie night without direct adult support given the nature of the event. However, there was a misunderstanding between the complainant and the school as to whether adult support was required. The student did not attend the movie event.
The IEP in effect at the time of the movie event indicated the student required adult support at school while in classes and during school field trips. The IEP did not require adult support during all extracurricular activities. The IEP team met in January 2022 and revised the IEP to provide the student adult support when the student participates in any extracurricular activities. The district properly enabled the student to participate in extracurricular activities.
Whether the district properly responded to allegations of bullying a student with a disability.
School districts have an obligation to ensure that a student with a disability who is the target of bullying behavior continues to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in accordance with the student’s IEP. As part of its appropriate response to bullying, the district should convene a student’s IEP team to determine whether, due to the effects of bullying, a 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 to a student, the IEP team must determine the extent additional or different special education or related services are needed to address the student’s individual needs and revise the IEP accordingly. 34 CFR § 300.323, Wis. Stat. § 115.787; Wis. Stat. § 115.78[c]; Wis. Stats. § 118.46; U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS)
August 20, 2013, Dear Colleague Letter; U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Dear Colleague letter dated October 21, 2014.
The district investigated incidents raised by the complainant in the Fall of 2021 and determined that bullying had not occurred. The district acknowledged that neither of these incidents were discussed at the December 2021 or January 2022 IEP team meetings. The district did not see a pattern of recurring behavior and felt these were isolated incidents that were positively addressed within the IEP in place at the time of the incidents. There is no indication that these negative interactions with other students have impacted the student’s receipt of FAPE. The district has properly responded to allegations of the student being bullied.
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. For more information, visit the department’s website at http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/dispute-resolution or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.