On April 21, 2023 (form dated April 18, 2023), 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, beginning the 2022-23 school year, properly provided an expelled student with a disability with educational services, as determined by the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) team, to enable the child to continue to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE), although in another setting, and properly developed the student’s IEP regarding postsecondary transition goals and services.
Whether the district properly provided an expelled student with a disability with educational services, as determined by the IEP team, to enable the student to continue to receive FAPE, although in another setting.
Districts must ensure that a student with a disability who is expelled continues to receive educational services to enable continued participation in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting their IEP goals. 34 CFR § 300.530 (d)(1)(i). The student must receive, as appropriate, a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and behavioral intervention services and modifications designed to address the behavior violation so that it does not recur. 34 CFR § 300.530 (d)(1)(ii). The IEP team is responsible for deciding what services are needed to provide the student with a FAPE. 34 CFR § 300.530 (d)(5). Monitoring and measuring progress both in the general education curriculum and toward IEP goals is a critical component in ensuring FAPE. Department Bulletin 18.02.
The student who is the subject of this complaint was expelled from a prior school district for conduct determined not to be a manifestation of their disability during the 2021-22 school year, more than one year prior to the department receiving this complaint. The student’s family moved to the current school district during the summer of 2022. In accordance with state and federal special education law regarding students with disabilities who transfer school districts, the district adopted the prior district’s October 2021 evaluation and April 2022 IEP during an IEP team meeting on September 16, 2022. The IEP team decided to continue the student’s placement in virtual learning, consistent with the student’s post-expulsion placement in the previous district.
The student’s parent reported difficulty supporting the student’s virtual learning. The student struggled to engage with the curriculum. During the fall semester, the district adjusted the instructional materials and schedule to make the content more manageable. At times, the student would begin to make progress but was not able to sustain it. While the district provided timely progress reports, they did not include data aligned with the method of measurement required by the student’s IEP. Although the district did not complete the reports appropriately, district staff and the student’s parent had been engaging in ongoing communication and shared an accurate understanding of the student’s progress. The IEP team met in March 2023 to address the student’s lack of progress. The IEP team decided to maintain the content of the student’s academic program but changed its delivery method. The mode of instruction switched from virtual learning to in-person instruction at an offsite location using physical work packets. The district and the student's parent agree this arrangement is more effective for the student. The district projects that the student will catch up on core credits by the end of the summer. The district properly provided an expelled student with a disability with educational services, as determined by the IEP team, to enable the student to continue to receive FAPE, although in another setting.
Whether the district properly developed the student’s IEP regarding postsecondary transition goals and services.
In Wisconsin, beginning during the school year when a student with a disability reaches age 14 and updated each year after, the student’s IEP must include a statement of appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals for the student related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills. Wis. Stat. § 115.787(2)(g). The IEP must also include transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals. Wis. Stat. § 115.787(2)(g). Transition services refer to a coordinated set of activities designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving academic and functional achievement to facilitate a student’s movement from school to post-school life. The activities are based on the student’s needs and must consider the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests. The activities include instruction, related services, community experiences, development of post-school adult living objectives, acquisition of daily living skills if appropriate, and a functional vocational evaluation if appropriate. 34 CFR 300.43(a). In Wisconsin, the postsecondary goals, transition services, and course of study are documented together in a form called the postsecondary transition plan (PTP). The PTP is part of the student’s IEP and must be reviewed by the IEP team at least annually.
The district must invite the student to participate in any IEP team meeting to consider the student's postsecondary goals and the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals.34 CFR § 300.321(b)(1). If the student does not attend, the district must take other steps to ensure that the student's preferences and interests are considered. The meeting invitation must indicate that a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals and transition services for the child. 34 CFR § 300.322(a)(2)(i)(A). Any time a district proposes or refuses to initiate or change the postsecondary goals, transition services, and course of study of a student with a disability, the district must provide the parents prior written notice, including, if applicable, a copy of the student’s IEP including the PTP, a reasonable time before any proposed changes take effect. 34 CFR §§ 300.322(f) and 300.503.
The student reached the age of 14 during the summer of 2022, prior to transferring to the current school district and before the September 2022 IEP team meeting. The student was invited to the September IEP team meeting but did not attend. The IEP team meeting invitation did not indicate that a purpose of the meeting would be consideration of postsecondary goals. The IEP team did not discuss nor develop postsecondary goals. The district later developed a PTP form for the student outside of an IEP team meeting. The form inaccurately described the student as attending the September 2022 IEP team meeting. The district did not properly develop the student’s IEP regarding postsecondary transition goals and services.
As corrective action, the district must hold an IEP team meeting within 60 days to consider, revise, and accurately describe the student’s postsecondary transition plan. The district must invite the student to attend the meeting, and if the student does not attend, the district must take other steps to ensure that the IEP team considers the student's preferences and interests. The district must submit a copy of the revised IEP, including the PTP, to the department within 10 days of the IEP team meeting. The district must also provide the department with the next scheduled quarterly review of the student’s annual goals with data aligned towards the level of goal attainment. Additionally, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must develop and submit to the department for approval a corrective action plan to ensure IEP teams properly develop and document statements of postsecondary transition goals and services for all students that reach the age of 14 in the district in a timely manner.
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. 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.