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IDEA Complaint Decision 24-032

On March 20, 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 issues identified are whether the district, beginning 2023-24 school year:
● Properly responded to a parent’s request for student records,
● Properly followed special education disciplinary requirements regarding counting and tracking disciplinary removals, and
● Properly responded to allegations of bullying regarding a student with a disability.
Whether the district properly responded to a parent’s request for student records.
A school district must permit parents to inspect and review any education records relating to their children that are collected, maintained, or used by the school district. The school district must comply with a request without unnecessary delay and before any meeting regarding an Individualized Education Program (IEP), and in no case more than 45 days after the request has been made. 34 CFR § 300.613(a). Upon request, a parent must be shown and provided a copy of his or her child’s education and progress records, Wis. Stat. sec. 118.125(2)(a), 34 CFR 99.10(a).
The student who is the subject of this complaint attends elementary school in the district. The complainant, who is the student’s parent, expressed concern that they had not been provided copies of multiple behavioral “write-ups” about the student. The complainant noted they had asked the principal for a copy of the behavioral write-ups when they met in January 2024. The principal did not recall this request. The parent sent district staff a series of emails on February 25 and 27, 2024, regarding the student’s suspension and asking about written behavioral reports. The district acknowledges the student’s daily behavioral reports were not sent home or communicated to the parent as requested by the parents. The parent sent another email March 21, 2024, asking for a copy of the student’s records. The principal sent the requested records to the parent the same day. The district did not respond promptly to the parent’s requests for records.
For district level corrective action, the district is planning to revise their student handbook to clarify staff must send written notification to parents regarding minor and major behavioral referrals. The district has made changes to the student information system to ensure parents are automatically sent daily behavioral referrals. In addition to these actions, within 30 days of this decision, the district must ensure all staff are informed of the proper procedures to follow when a parent requests records. The district must submit documentation of this communication to staff to the department. No additional student specific corrective action is required as the district has provided the requested records to the student’s parent.
Whether the district properly followed special education disciplinary requirements regarding counting and tracking disciplinary removals.
In order to ensure special education disciplinary procedures are followed, school districts must document and count disciplinary removals, including out-of-school suspensions, some in-school suspensions, and de facto suspensions. 34 CFR §300.530.
On February 22, 2024, a staff person called the parent to come to school to pick up the student after a behavioral incident. When the parent arrived at the school, the principal verbally informed them about an incident in the student’s music class involving the student. As a result of the incident, the student received a four day out of school suspension.
The district submitted documentation that confirmed the district properly tracked the disciplinary removals of the student for February 22, 23, 26, and 27, 2024. Since the student has not accrued 10 cumulative days of disciplinary removals during the 2023-24 school year, further special education disciplinary requirements do not apply. The district properly followed special education disciplinary requirements regarding counting and tracking disciplinary removals.
Whether the district properly responded to allegations of bullying regarding 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 of 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(2)(c); Wis. Stats. § 118.46;
The student’s parents reported that the student often came home from school crying as the result of being called names by other students. The student’s special education teacher shared that the student talked to them at the beginning of the school year about other students calling the student names. The teacher talked to the students involved. The principal also shared they were made aware of another name calling incident in October 2023. The principal talked to all of the students involved and advised the students not to speak to each other but to let the principal know immediately if the name calling resumed. No further reports were sent to the principal, who assumed the matter had been resolved.
The parent sent emails to the district on February 25 and 27, 2024, that the student continued to report being called names and teased since being identified as a student with a disability. The special education teacher organized a meeting with the parents on March 1, 2024, to discuss the student’s return to class after the recent suspension. The teacher and parents discussed the parent’s concerns and agreed to keep each other informed of any future allegations. This meeting was not an IEP meeting.
The district’s bullying policy includes name calling as an example of bullying. The district acknowledges the incidents at the start of the school year were investigated, but the results of the investigation were not shared with the student’s parents as stated in the district’s policy. In addition, the district did not conduct an investigation into the bullying allegations raised by the student’s parent in the February emails.
The district should have convened an IEP team meeting for the student to consider whether any revisions were needed due to the effects of bullying on the student. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district is directed to hold an IEP team meeting for this purpose. The district must send the department a copy of the revised IEP within 10 days of the 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