IDEA Complaint Decision 02-052

On September 10, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the River Valley School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district:

  • Implemented the individualized education program (IEP) for a child with a disability related to participation in non-academic and extracurricular activities when his class went on a field trip to an orchard during the 2001-2002 school year; and
  • Improperly determined the educational program and placement for the child for the 2002-2003 school year.

The complainant alleged that the district improperly prohibited her child from participating in a field trip with his class during the 2000-2001 or 2001-2002 school year. Specifically, the complainant alleged that her child was not allowed to attend a field trip to an apple orchard after she had given permission for him to attend. According to the district's response, the field trip took place on October 9, 2000. Generally, a complainant has the right to file a complaint with the department within one year of an alleged violation. A longer period may be determined to be reasonable if a violation is continuing or if compensatory services are requested for a violation that occurred less than three years prior to the date a complaint is received. In this case, there is no evidence that this alleged violation is continuing or that compensatory services are required. The department will not investigate the allegations related to the field trip.

The complainant also claims that the district improperly determined the educational program and placement for her child for the 2002-2003 school year. Specifically, the complaint says that the district failed to notify her of an IEP team meeting scheduled for August 27, 2002, to review and revise the student's IEP since returning from a residential care center (RCC).

The child's mother attended an IEP team meeting held on January 10, 2002, to review and revise the child's IEP and determine placement. The parent was provided a copy of the placement following the January 10, 2002, IEP team meeting. The placement indicates that the student will be schooled outside of the regular school environment for one and one-half hours, three times a week. Before the January 10, 2002, IEP could be implemented, the child was placed in a Residential Care Center by the county.

According to Iowa County Social Services, on or about August 12, 2002, a county social worker informed the district that the student would be discharged from the RCC on August 23, 2002. The county social worker who made this call informed the department that the actual date the child was discharged was August 30, 2002. The district claims they were not aware that the child was going to be discharged and returned to their district until August 30, 2002. They were under the impression that the child may be discharged to a foster home outside of their district.

On August 13, 2002, the district sent the parent a notice and invitation to an individualized education program (IEP) meeting scheduled for August 27, 2002, to review, revise, develop an annual IEP, and determine continuing placement. The complainant maintains that she never received this notice. A copy of the notice was sent to the department by the district. The district postponed the August 27, 2002, IEP team meeting regarding this child until they received a discharge summary or could meet with the RCC, and reschedule at a time when the parent could attend.

Since no IEP team meeting was held prior to the child's return to school, the district was prepared to implement the January 10, 2002, IEP as written. They had secured a teacher to provide the child with instruction at home per the IEP. An IEP team meeting was held on October 14, 2002, which contains content similar to the January 10, 2002, IEP. The district is currently providing services for the child in his home.

Once the district was informed that the child would be returning to their district, they had an obligation, together with the county and the RCC, to hold a meeting to develop a reintegration plan. Section 115.81 (4) (a) (5), Wisconsin Statutes, states: "If the child is leaving the child caring institution, assign staff or an individualized education program team to develop a reintegration plan for the child in cooperation with a county department and staff of the child caring institution." The district erred by not including the county social worker or a representative from the child caring institution at a meeting, or otherwise cooperating with them, to develop a reintegration plan. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department to ensure that special education staff is aware that a reintegration plan must be developed prior to a student's return to their district. Because an IEP team meeting was held for this child, the district is not required to develop a corrective action plan specific to this child.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 11/11/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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