IDEA Complaint Decision 03-021

On April 11, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Wilmot Union High School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district properly suspended a child with a disability during the period February 4 to March 20, 2003.

The parent maintains the district denied her son a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by suspending him from school for more than 15 days between February 4, 2003, and March 20, 2003. She also maintains the district failed to determine whether the suspensions resulted in a change of placement for the student.

On January 8, 2003, an IEP team meeting was held for this student upon his transfer to the district. The IEP team determined the student met criteria for having a disability and developed an IEP. The district provided the department copies of the student's discipline referrals, discipline reports, and attendance list from January 9, 2003, until April 10, 2003, when the student was withdrawn from the district. A review of those records reveals the student received five out-of-school suspensions and three in-school suspensions between February 4, 2003, and March 20, 2003. From January 9, 2003, through April 10, 2003, the student received a total of ten out-of-school suspensions. The student's district of attendance from the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year until his transfer reported to the department that the student was suspended from school for 12.5 days between September 30, 2002, and December 19, 2002.

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 removal will not result in a change of placement, the district may remove the child to the extent that a nondisabled child would be removed. However, during the period of removal, the district must provide services to the extent necessary to enable the child to progress appropriately in the general curriculum and appropriately advance toward achieving the IEP goals. If a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) has not been conducted, the district must convene an IEP team meeting to develop an assessment plan and create a behavior intervention plan (BIP). If the student already has a BIP, an IEP team must meet to review the plan and its implementation. For each subsequent removal, school officials must determine whether the removal will result in a change of educational placement and IEP team members must review the BIP to determine whether it should be modified. An IEP team meeting is not required for the review.

In this case, the 11th day of suspension in the school year occurred while the student was enrolled in another district. Prior to imposing additional discipline, the district which is the subject of this complaint was obligated to follow requirements described above. The district did not follow required procedures for each subsequent removal during the school year. The district is not required to take child specific corrective action since the student is no longer enrolled in the district.

In a previous complaint decision the district was directed to develop a plan to ensure that school officials are aware of requirements when students are subject to disciplinary removals in excess of ten days in a school year. The district was urged to utilize the computer program developed by DPI at http://www2.dpi.state.wi.us/scripts/exsysweb.exe?KBNAME=discipline. Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must submit a proposed corrective action plan to the department to ensure that when disciplining a student who transfers into their district after the start of a school year, the district considers removals that occurred prior to the transfer.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 5/13/03
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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