IDEA Complaint Decision 04-018

On April 27, 2004, 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 2003-2004 school year, properly developed a student's placement, changed the student's school of attendance, and placed the student into homebound instruction without conducting an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting; and
  • between February 1, 2004, and April 9, 2004, improperly excluded the student from school and did not implement his IEP.

On September 2, 2003, the first day of school for students, the student attended the middle school he attended the previous year. The student was placed in a special education classroom and provided the services in his January 28, 2003, IEP. On January 5, 2004, an IEP team met to conduct a reevaluation and determine continued eligibility, develop the student's IEP, develop a transition statement, functional behavior assessment, behavior intervention plan, and determine continuing placement. A determination and notice of placement was issued for the IEP to be implemented at the child's middle school on January 5, 2004. The child's parents attended the IEP team meeting.

On February 19, 2004, the child was involved in a behavior incident resulting in a five-day suspension, February 20, 24, 25, 26, and 27. A central service discipline conference was held on Friday, February 27. The student services coordinator's recommendation was that the IEP team revise the child's behavior plan and that the child remain at his current middle school. According to district attendance records, the child was suspended on March 1 and 2, 2004. Information provided to the department by the district indicates that the March 1 and 2 suspensions were a continuation of the suspension resulting from the February 19 incident. State law does not permit suspensions longer than five consecutive days unless the district notifies the parent that it intends to proceed with expulsion. The district did not provide the department with a notice of expulsion. The district suspended the child 10 cumulative school days during the school year. During much of March, the child did not attend school due to parent concerns. In March, the district sent a bilingual teaching assistant to the student's home on six days and a bilingual school social worker spoke with the student's father on the phone and made a home visit with the student and the student's mother.

The child's out-of school suspensions did not exceed ten cumulative days during the school year. A central service discipline conference was held on Monday, March 29. The student services coordinator's recommendation was that the IEP team revise the child's behavior intervention plan. On April 6, 2004, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student's IEP, conduct a manifestation determination, and determine continuing placement. A determination and notice of placement was issued for the IEP to be implemented at a district high school on April 19, 2004. On May 11, 2004, the child enrolled at the assigned high school.

Between April 6 and May 11, the student did not attend his assigned school. Although the IEP team made a change of placement for the student on April 6, 2004, between April 7 and May 11 the district did not make the placement available or implement the student's IEP. By July 30, an IEP team must meet to determine if the student is in need of additional services to compensate for services missed during second semester of the 2003-2004 school year. The district must send the department a copy of the student's IEP with documentation of the team's decision by August 6, 2004. The district also must provide the department, by July 30, with proposed corrective action to ensure that students are not suspended for more than 5 consecutive days unless a notice of expulsion is sent to the parents. The district is in the process of implementing procedures to ensure that placements are determined properly and IEPs ARE implemented for all children with disabilities. Department staff will continue to work closely with the district regarding these issues.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 6/28/04
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