On September 29, 2003, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Pardeeville Area School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2003-2004 school year, properly determined the educational placement for a child with a disability.
In late August 2003, the parent informed the district that her son would be returning to the district for the 2003-2004 school year. The student had previously attended the school district during the 2001-2002 school year, where he frequently engaged in severely disruptive and aggressive behavior. The Pardeeville School District tried several different types of interventions and strategies, which included an aide, supported study classes, use of an independent consultant, and a shortened day. In March 2002, the individualized education program (IEP) team ultimately determined that the appropriate placement was an alternative education program for students with disabilities. Shortly thereafter, the parent removed the student from the program and he was home schooled.
During the 2002-2003 school year, the student became a resident of a nearby district where he was placed in the regular education environment. In March 2003, a manifestation determination was held because the student had been suspended for more than ten days during the school year. The team agreed that the behaviors, which resulted in the suspensions, were manifestations of the student's disability. The team also determined that the student's behavioral intervention plan should be revised to include additional interventions, including a provision permitting police intervention.
An IEP meeting was held on September 8, 2003, following the student's return to the Pardeeville School District. Prior to the meeting, a teacher on the IEP team developed a draft IEP based on the previous year's IEP, which was to be discussed during the meeting. The teacher stated that she intended to use the previous year's IEP as a starting point for discussion.
The meeting began with district staff informing the parent of their rights to additional time and a copy of the evaluation report. About ten minutes into the meeting, the parent asked if the student would be placed in the alternative education program. Other IEP participants indicated that this placement was a consideration. One possibility mentioned was a partial day in the program and a period of time in the regular education environment.
After hearing the response regarding placement, the parent left the meeting stating she would not consider placement in the alternative education program. One of the team participants went to talk with the parent, but was unable to persuade her to come back to the meeting. The IEP meeting did not continue after the parent left and the meeting was not reconvened.
On September 11, 2003, a cover letter with the IEP and placement offer was delivered to the parent. The cover letter states that enclosed is a copy of the adopted IEP and a copy of the placement offer from the Pardeeville School District based on the September 8th meeting. Interviews with participants of the IEP team indicate that although the team discussed placement in the alternative program and also considered partial day placement, the team did not make any final determination regarding what would be the appropriate placement in the least restrictive environment. Rather, it appears that team participants began the discussion of placement with the parent but did not finish it either before or after the parent left.
Based on interviews with participants of the IEP team, the IEP team further did not review, revise, or adopt the draft IEP or the IEP delivered to the parent on September 11. The district could have adopted the student's IEP from the nearby district as a transfer student under PI 11.07, Wis. Admin. Code. However, the district could have only done so if the parents indicated that they were satisfied with the current IEP and the district determined that the pupil's current IEP could have been implemented as written and in the school that he would have otherwise attended if not disabled.
The student is currently home-schooled and is not attending the Pardeeville School District. The district has sent the parent letters offering to meet with her informally to discuss her concerns and to schedule and hold another IEP team meeting. The parent has not responded. The district remains prepared to take these steps and therefore no corrective action is required. If another IEP team meeting is held, the IEP team must make the decisions regarding the student's program and placement, and provide proper notice. If the parent remains unsatisfied, she may file another complaint with the department or initiate mediation or a due process hearing.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
//signed 11/19/03 by SJP
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy