On April 27, 2005, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Fond du Lac School District. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, between April 2004 and April 2005:
- Placed the student in time-out utilizing proper procedures;
- Properly determined the amount of special education and related services to be provided to a student with a disability;
- Properly determined the extent to which the student would be educated with students who do not have disabilities following individualized education program (IEP) team meetings in April and May 2005; and
- Properly determined the student's need for extended school year services for the summer of 2005.
In January 2004, the student began attending a school in the Fond du Lac School District. The student's behavior was severe, injuring himself, other students, and staff. The district made numerous efforts to address the behavior. District staff used a variety of positive behavioral support strategies. Staff received training in non-violent crisis intervention. The district hired an outside consultant who made several recommendations that were implemented. Protective gear was provided to the staff, as well as the student to ensure safety. The complaint alleges that during this time, particularly between February and April 2004, the student was placed in a "time out room." In order to help address the student's behaviors, the IEP team determined that a sensory area was necessary. This area was not a room but an open space, and it was referred to as the pillow, sensory, or crash area. Located in this area were such things as balls, pillows, blankets, and a weighted vest. Wall and floor mats were also used in order to create a safe space for the student. At all times, at least one staff member was present with the student, and most of the time, two staff members were present with the student. District staff kept a daily log of the student's activities. The student's behavior intervention plan that was incorporated into the IEP provided for use of this sensory area. The district followed proper procedures in using the sensory area.
On April 27, 2004, the IEP team met and determined, based on individual child specific information, that homebound placement was the appropriate placement for the student. Services were provided in the home setting. In addition, the IEP team continued to meet on a monthly basis. This program was not reflected in the student's IEP. An IEP must be written so that all parties understand what is to be provided. No child specific corrective action is required because the child's program has subsequently been modified and the student is no longer receiving homebound instruction. However, within 30 days of receiving this decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure that IEPs are written with the required specificity so that all parties are able to understand what is to be provided. This plan must include training of district special education staff.
When the student returned to the school setting in the spring of 2005, the IEP team determined that the student should receive individual and/or small group instruction. Again, this lacks specificity as to when the student would receive individual as opposed to group instruction. The district must convene an IEP team meeting to address this lack of specificity in the student's IEP and the above corrective action should address this issue as well. Finally, when the complaint was filed the IEP team had not determined what extended school year services the student would receive for the summer of 2005. However, on June 8, 2005, the IEP team reached consensus as to what services would be provided, and this issue has been resolved.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed 7/27/05 by SJP
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy