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IDEA Complaint Decision 24-025

On March 5, 2024 (form dated February 28, 2024) 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 identified issues are included below and pertain to the 2023-24 school year.
Whether the district properly responded to incidents of alleged bullying regarding a student with a disability.
Local educational agencies (LEAs) have an obligation to ensure a student with a disability who is the target of bullying behavior continues to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in accordance with their Individualized Education Program (IEP). The school 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 meaningful educational benefit. OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on Bullying, August 20, 2013; 34 CFR § 300.323; Wis. Stat. §§ 115.787 and 115.78(2)(c).
The complainant’s allegations of bullying began during the start of the 2023-24 school year. The student who is the subject of this complaint told the complainant (who is the legal guardian of the student) that other students were making fun of them. The complainant alleges that these incidents occurred at school and on the bus. Interviews with district staff confirm that the student had conflict with other students, but staff felt that these conflicts did not meet the district’s definition of bullying. Staff interviewed stated that the student did not always know how to resolve the conflict and would act out as a result of this (yelling, stomping feet, or leaving the class without permission).
The student had two documented behavior incidents during the 2023-24 school year. Any time there was a behavior incident, staff followed up with the complainant via a phone call. The student’s general education teacher also recommended the student for additional support through the school’s behavior team, which consisted of the student working with the school social worker and school psychologist on conflict resolution.
When the complainant voiced concerns about the student’s conflicts with peers to the special education supervisor, they suggested holding an IEP team meeting to review/revise the student’s IEP to address the behavior concerns. The IEP team met on November 28, 2023, during which the complainant told the IEP team about the student’s behavior and the conflicts that occurred with peers. The complainant inquired about specially designed transportation for the student. The team determined the student did not require specially designed transportation. The IEP team revised the IEP to include 15 minutes of specially designed instruction in social/emotional learning skills. There were also a number of supplementary aids and supports added to the IEP which included a check-in/check-out system with a staff member, visual feeling cards, preferential seating in close proximity to the teacher and away from peers that triggered the student to act out, praise from adults when exhibiting appropriate behaviors and the use of a buddy classroom for self-regulation when becoming agitated. The present levels of the IEP included documentation that there were peers that the student did not get along with.
The IEP team met again on January 11, 2024, for the student’s annual IEP meeting. The IEP team revised the IEP to include keeping the student in close proximity to the teacher (10 feet) for assistance with conflict resolution. The IEP team also added a goal for Social Emotional Skills: Conflict Resolution and 15 minutes of specially designed instruction for social emotional learning skills with a focus on conflict resolution. The district properly met its obligation under special education law to respond to incidents of alleged bullying regarding the student.
Whether the district improperly dismissed the student from special education.
The LEA must reevaluate a student with a disability before determining the student is no longer a student with a disability. 34 CFR § 300.305(e).
On January 18, 2024, the student began attending a virtual charter school in another school district. On February 5, 2024, the district sent the complainant a letter based on an erroneous belief that the student was enrolled in a private school. The student was not dismissed from special education. The district acknowledges their mistake in sending this letter and did not improperly dismiss the student from special education.
Whether the district properly provided the student’s records to the receiving LEA upon the student's transfer from the district.
Consistent with the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the receiving LEA must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the student’s records from the sending LEA, including the child’s IEP and supporting documents and any other records relating to the provision of special education or related services to the child. The sending LEA must take reasonable steps to promptly respond to the request from the receiving LEA. Wisconsin law requires a LEA to transfer all pupil records related to a specific student no later than the next working day if the LEA has received written notice from the parent that the student intends to enroll in another LEA, tribal school, or private school; the other LEA, tribal school, or private school that the student has enrolled; or a court that the student has been placed in a secured correctional facility, child caring institution, or group home. Wis. Stat. §118.125(4). 34 CFR §300.323(g).
The complainant enrolled the student in a virtual charter school in another district with a start date of January 18, 2024. While the charter school promptly received a current copy of the student’s IEP, the district failed to send all other student records until April 24, 2024. The school district did not properly provide the student’s records to the receiving LEA upon the student's transfer from the district.
Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department for approval a corrective action plan to ensure any staff responsible for responding to records requests have reviewed the district’s policy on providing student records to a receiving district upon a student's transfer from the district.
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 or contact the special education team at (608) 266-1781.
For questions about this information, contact (608) 266-1781