You are here

IDEA Complaint Decision 24-029

On March 13, 2024 (form dated March 11, 2024), the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from #### (parent) against the #### (district). This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2023-24 school year, improperly changed the educational placement of a student with a disability outside of a meeting of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team.
To the maximum extent appropriate, school districts must ensure students with disabilities are educated with their nondisabled peers. Special classes, separate schooling, or other removals of students with disabilities from the regular educational environment should occur only if the nature or severity of a student's disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. 34 CFR § 300.114(a)(2). Under Wisconsin law, each student's IEP team must determine the student's educational placement, and the placement determination must be made through an IEP team meeting. Wis. Stat. § 115.78(2). Any time a district proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement or the provision of a free appropriate public education to a student with a disability, the district must provide the parents prior written notice, including, if applicable, a copy of the student’s IEP, a reasonable time before any proposed changes take effect. 34 CFR §300.503.
The IEPs in effect for the student who is the subject of this complaint identified that the student’s behaviors impeded their learning or the learning of others. At the start of the 2023-24 school year, the student was placed in the general education environment for most of their day. The student was removed from the general education classroom for 30 minutes per week for specially designed instruction in social skills, 30 minutes per week for specially designed instruction in self-regulation strategies, 80 minutes per month for occupational therapy, and 140 per month for speech and language services.
As the year progressed, record review and interviews with school staff confirm that the student’s behaviors were becoming increasingly physical towards other students. In January of 2024, the district made the decision to move the student into a self-contained special education classroom within the student’s current school building to “reduce [the student’s] sensory and emotional dysregulation and to offer [the student] more consistency, predictability, and less transitioning” per the student’s IEP. The student’s first day in the self-contained classroom was January 19, 2024. The parent was not notified of the student’s placement change until January 23, 2024. An IEP team meeting was held on February 1, 2024, where the student’s behavior and the placement change, which was already in effect, were discussed. District staff provided the parent a copy of the student’s revised IEP, including notice of the change in placement, at the end of the IEP team meeting. The district did not properly change the educational placement of a student with a disability as the decision was made outside of an IEP team meeting, without the input of the student’s parent, and without properly providing the parent prior written notice.
Within 20 days of the date of this decision, the IEP team must reconvene to properly determine the student’s educational placement in the least restrictive environment and consider whether, as a result of the inappropriate placement change, the student requires compensatory services. The district is directed to send a copy of the student’s revised IEP within 10 days of the meeting. Additionally, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit to the department for approval a corrective action plan to ensure that all educational placements of students with disabilities are determined by the students’ IEP teams through an IEP team meeting.
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