IDEA Complaint Decision 03-024

On May 20, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district during the 2002-2003 school year:

  • failed to follow required procedures when the district suspended a child with a disability more than ten days during the school year; and
  • failed to implement the child's behavior intervention plan following its development early in 2003.

During the 2002-2003 school year, the student was removed from school for 11 cumulative days beginning on April 14, 2003. The school's discipline day recorder noted removals on a disciplinary removal calendar as required by the district's consolidated corrective action plan (CCAP). However, notations on the disciplinary removal calendar show confusion regarding whether to count a bus suspension and a day when the child was told not to return to school following a suspension. District policy and special education law require counting these days as days of suspension. The district acknowledges that these days should have been counted. Further, the district acknowledges that removals recorded at the building level were not accurately entered into the district's computerized attendance record for this child and that corrections to that attendance record need to be made.

The child's out-of-school suspensions exceeded ten cumulative days on April 14, 2003. The district did not hold an IEP team meeting within ten business days of April 14 as required to review the child's behavior plan and implementation of the plan, and to modify the plan as necessary to address the behavior. Further, the district changed the child's placement without conducting an IEP team meeting. In January, the district had a central office disciplinary review meeting for the child which also was an IEP team meeting. On April 9, the district held another central office disciplinary review for the child which it maintains was also an IEP team meeting. However, this meeting did not include required participants and the parent was not properly notified the meeting was to be an IEP team meeting. The child's parent was provided a notice of placement on April 14 at an in-take conference held at an alternative partnership school. The placement changed the child's placement to another school. On April 15, the child began attending his new school. Although the district held six IEP team meetings between January 10 and February 25, 2003, there is no record of an April 14 IEP team meeting to review the child's IEP and change the child's placement.

The child's record provided to the department includes a February 17 functional behavioral assessment (FBA) including interventions, and a February 25 IEP including a "crisis plan" referred to as the behavior intervention plan (BIP). IEPs must be written so that all parties understand the services to be provided. The crisis plan was not sufficiently specific so that staff could appropriately utilize the plan; it did not identify with sufficient clarity the student behavior which would require staff response nor what the response would be. The plan was not written with sufficient specificity to determine if the district failed to implement the child's BIP.

The district, when it acknowledged that the child had been suspended for more than ten days during the school year, indicated that it will convene an IEP team meeting to address needed child-specific corrective action. The district also indicated that it will correct the child's attendance record. Prior to the beginning of the 2003-2004 school year, an IEP team must review the BIP, modify the IEP, plan as necessary to include specific behavior information with positive intervention and supports to address the child's behavior problems at school and make a placement determination. The district must submit documentation of these child-specific corrective actions to the department by August 30, 2003.

The district will work with staff in the building the child attended until mid-April to determine why the disciplinary removal calendar for this student differed from the district official computerized attendance record for this child and will report to the department changes it will make to correct the system discrepancy. The district will develop materials for department review which will clarify for building discipline day recorders in all buildings how bus suspensions are to be recorded, and the distinction between disciplinary removals and excused absences. Finally, the district will develop a plan of correction to ensure that relevant staff understand that placement changes for students with disabilities associated with central office disciplinary reviews must be made by IEP teams. These activities also will be completed by August 30, 2003.

Department staff will continue to work closely with the district to assist in its review and implementation of the discipline, placement, and IEP consolidated corrective action plans (CCAPs).

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 7/14/03
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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