IDEA Complaint Decision 01-040

On May 17, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. The issues in the complaint are whether the district, during the 2000-2001 school year, failed to provide an English class and an anger management program as required by the childs IEP and improperly removed the child from school for more than 10 days. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint.

The special education supervisor informed the department that the student was enrolled in English class during the entire 2000-2001 school year. On February 8, 2001, an IEP team conducted an annual review and revision of the students IEP. The IEP states that the student will attend a team-taught English class in the regular education classroom. The special education supervisor stated that the student was moved into an English class in a special education classroom and had his schedule changed to half-days in school with a half-day work study program in February 2001. The IEP team did not make these changes and did not revise the students IEP to reflect these changes. Prior to the start of the 2001-2002 school year, the district must hold an IEP team meeting to review and, as appropriate, revise the students current IEP. The district also must ensure that its special education staff is aware that changes to students special education programs must be made by IEP teams, and IEP teams must revise students IEPs to reflect those program and service changes. The district must advise the department of its proposed corrective actions within 30 days of the date of this decision.

The students attendance records for the 2000-2001 school year indicate that he was suspended out of school for 16 cumulative days. However, the special education supervisor informed the department that school administrators sometimes sent the student home without formally suspending the student. The department is unable to determine how many additional days the student may have been removed from school beyond the 16 days of recorded suspensions.

On October 19, 2000, when the student had been suspended for five consecutive school days, an IEP team developed a behavior intervention plan (BIP) for the student to address his behavior problems in school. On February 15, 2001, the students out-of-school suspensions exceeded 10 cumulative days in the school year. The district did not hold an IEP team meeting to develop a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) plan and to review and, if necessary, revise the students BIP. The district failed to follow required procedures when it suspended the student from school for more than 10 cumulative days in the school year. Prior to the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year, the IEP team must develop a plan for conducting an FBA. The FBA must be completed, and the IEP team must develop a BIP to address the students behavior problems at school. The district must submit documentation of these child-specific corrective actions to the department by August 15, 2001 to ensure completion of the activities prior to the start of the 2001-2002 school year.

One of the progressive intervention strategies included in the BIP was involving the student in the "Think First" anger management program. The school psychologist informed the department that she provided the student with three passes to attend the program and repeatedly encouraged him to attend. The student attended only one session, and the district did not take further actions to ensure his participation in the anger management program. The special education supervisor informed the department that the district also did not implement the "intervention tree" in the students BIP that listed five people, including the supervisor, who were to be contacted when the student had behavior problems at school. The supervisor stated that he often was not contacted about the students behavior problems, as required by the BIP. The district failed to implement provisions of the students BIP related to the anger management program and the "intervention tree." By October 15, 2001, and by December 15, 2001, the district must send the department documentation that the students BIP for the 2001-2002 school year has been implemented.

On November 15, 2000, the district submitted a corrective action plan (CAP) to the department related to several complaints ensuring that the district follows required procedures when a child with a disability is subjected to disciplinary removals including suspensions from school. Based upon this complaint investigation and the departments May 2001 on-site compliance monitoring of the district, it appears that the corrective actions undertaken by the district to date have not been sufficient to remedy the issue of disciplinary removals. Therefore, the department directs the district to review its current CAP related to disciplinary removals of children with disabilities and amend the CAP to include additional corrective actions that will effectively address this issue. Department staff will work closely with the district to assist in its review, revision, and implementation of the amended discipline CAP.

//signed 6/29/01
Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy


For questions about this information, contact Patricia Williams (608) 267-3720