IDEA Complaint Decision 09-019

On March 20, 2009 the Department of Public Instruction received an Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Academy of Learning and Leadership. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the local education agency (LEA), in March 2009, followed required procedures when disciplining a child with a disability.

On March 18, 2009, at 11:37 a.m. the child was sent home from school while the school staff investigated the child’s behavior as reported by other students. School staff had contacted the child’s parents to pick him up from school, and explained the allegations regarding the child’s conduct. Sending a child with a disability home during the school day for not following school rules constitutes “de facto” suspension of a child from school. These days must be considered when determining whether a series of removals resulted in a change of educational placement or whether the child had been removed from school for more than ten cumulative days in a school year.

On March 19, when the child returned to school, he was placed in an in-school suspension room with regular education and special education students. A member of the school staff spoke to the child’s parent on the phone about the behavior incident. The child’s special education teacher provided the child a packet of assignments to work on during the in-school suspension. During in-school suspension, the student’s behavior contract was implemented, and the student was assigned points. On March 19 at 5:48 p.m., the child’s mother was informed by telephone of the in-school suspension and was informed the child would receive an out-of-school suspension for March 20, 2009 and March 23, 2009. The student did not receive more than ten cumulative days of disciplinary removals in the school year.

A manifestation determination IEP team meeting was held on Monday, March 23, 2009. On or about March 20, by certified mail, the following documents were sent to the child’s parent: a cover letter notifying the parent the child had committed an expellable offense: an invitation to a March 23 individualized education program (IEP) team meeting to conduct a manifestation determination and determine continuing placement; the child’s January 13, 2009 IEP; and procedures for a manifestation determination hearing.

On March 23, within ten business days of March 18, an IEP team meeting was held to conduct a manifestation determination and determine continuing placement. The child’s mother participated in part of the IEP team meeting. The team determined the child’s IEP was implemented and the child’s behavior was not a manifestation of the student’s disability. On March 24 the child’s mother withdrew the student from the school. The child was enrolled in a different public school. The school followed the special education disciplinary requirements.

Finally, the student’s IEP states the student is “not allowed in the classroom if his behavior contract is not signed by his mom and he goes home for the day.” This is not a permitted behavior intervention. In developing a behavioral intervention plan, the IEP team must consider appropriate positive interventions, strategies, and supports to address the student’s behavior. This intervention is contingent upon action of the student’s parent and is not designed to address the student’s behavior. Because the student no longer attends the school, no student specific action is required. However, by June 30, 2009, the school must review all students’ IEPs and revise if this statement or similar statements are contained in the IEP. In addition, all school staff must be trained on appropriate positive behavioral interventions. By June 30, 2009, the school must provide the department an assurance all IEPs have been reviewed and revised, if necessary, and documentation staff training has been completed.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 5/15/09
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