On November 5, 2004, 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 issues are whether the district, during the 2004-2005 school year, ensured that an individualized education program (IEP) team considered strategies to address behavior impeding the learning of a student with a disability and followed required procedures when suspending the student more than 10 days in a school year.
An IEP team meeting was held in October 2004, on the same day that the student was brought to the high school to register. The IEP from the sending district was completed in July 2004. The evaluation and the IEP from the sending district were adopted by the receiving district. The IEP that was adopted includes three positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address behavior. Annual goals and short-term objectives on the adopted IEP are focused on the development of appropriate social interaction skills and academic performance. An IEP team met again on November 19, 2004, and also considered strategies to address the student's behavior. The district ensured that an IEP team considered strategies to address behavior impeding the learning of the student.
When this complaint was filed, the student had been suspended for seven and one-half days in the school year. Each instance of suspension related to noncompliance with school rules. Federal law specifies that school authorities may unilaterally suspend a child with a disability from the child's regular placement for not more than 10 cumulative school days in a school year for any violation of school rules if nondisabled children would be subjected to removal for the same offense.
The student was suspended again in early December 2004. Following this suspension, an IEP team meeting was scheduled for the next day. The purpose of this meeting was to review and revise the IEP, determine placement, develop a transition statement, review high school graduation requirements, and conduct a manifestation determination. The meeting was delayed by one week during which time the student received services in an alternate setting. District staff determined that the additional four days of suspension would not constitute a change of placement. The student left the school district before the rescheduled IEP team meeting was to take place.
When a child with a disability has been removed from his or her current placement for more than 10 school days in a school year, during subsequent removals the district must provide services to the extent necessary to enable the child to appropriately progress in the general curriculum and appropriately advance toward achieving the goals in the child's IEP. School personnel, in consultation with the child's special education teacher, determine the extent to which services are necessary. The principal consulted with the child's special education teacher and determined the necessary services. Further, either before or not later than 10 business days after first removing the child for more than 10 school days in a school year, a district must convene an IEP team meeting to review the child's behavioral intervention plan (BIP) and its implementation or, if the child does not have a BIP, meet to develop a plan to conduct a functional behavioral assessment and develop a BIP. The district scheduled an IEP team meeting, but the child left the district before the team could meet. The district followed required procedures when suspending the student more than 10 days in a school year.
The student has returned to the district and is now 18 years of age. The district has rescheduled an IEP team meeting to address the purposes of the meeting that was to have taken place in December 2004.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy