On May 31, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against [Unnamed] School District. The issue is whether the district, during the 2000-2001 school year, failed to provide a child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by repeatedly suspending him from school. This is the departments decision for that complaint.
The student whose education is the subject of this complaint registered at [Unnamed] School on January 3, 2001. On January 19, 2001, the district received the students individualized educational program (IEP) developed by his previous school district which had an ending date of January 10, 2001. An IEP team meeting was held on February 23, 2001, where goals and objectives were established and a behavior program was constructed for the student and attached to the IEP.
Based on materials submitted by the district, the student was suspended from [Unnamed] School for a total of 16 school days between January 3, 2000, and June 15, 2001. On May 11, 2001, the student was removed for the 11th day while attending school in the district.1 Although the district did not receive the students education records until January 19, 2001, once the district made the decision to take the disciplinary action of suspending this student, the district was obligated to first determine the number of total suspensions the student had received for the year. Beginning on the eleventh day of suspension in the school year, the district was obligated to provide services for the student to the extent necessary to enable him to progress appropriately in the general curriculum and advance appropriately toward achieving annual goals, and to take action regarding a functional behavior assessment (FBA) and behavior intervention plan (BIP). The district suspended the student without meeting these requirements.
Footnote: The district determined that the 11th day of suspension for the student occurred on May 11, 2001. However, the child's attendance records from his previous district of attendance indicate that he was suspended from school for eight and one half days between September 5, 2000, and December 13, 2000. These eight and one half days of suspension must be considered when determining the total days of suspension in a school year. Including the eight and one half days of suspension from the student's previous district means January 9, 2001, was the 11th day of suspension.
In addition, before a child may be removed from his current placement for more than ten school days in a school year, school officials must determine whether an additional removal would result in a change of placement. If the district decides that a change in placement would occur, it must conduct an IEP team meeting to consider whether the conduct is a manifestation of the students disability. Additional removals are allowed unless the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the students disability. The district failed to address this requirement as well.
When the district received the students IEP on January 19, 2001, and realized that it had expired on January 10, 2001, the district was obligated to conduct an IEP team meeting to review, and if necessary, revise the childs IEP. While the district did make attempts to convene the IEP team earlier, an IEP team meeting was not held until February 23, 2001. While this was not an issue in this complaint, the department suggests that the district clarify its procedures for conducting IEP team meetings when an IEP is expired. This may include, but is not limited to, holding an IEP team meeting over the phone, or conducting the meeting without the parents, if locating or receiving a response from the parents unduly delays the process.
In a previous complaint finding, the district was directed to submit to the department documentation that requirements regarding suspensions of students with disabilities are followed. The student whose education is the subject of this complaint has moved from the district, therefore the district will not be directed to make child-specific corrections.
//signed CST 8/3/01
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy