IDEA Complaint Decision 09-022

On April 1, 2009, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Howard-Suamico School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2008-2009 school year, properly implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP) regarding the prohibition of touch and ensured staff responsible for implementing portions of the child’s IEP were informed of their specific responsibilities.

The student transferred to the district for the 2008-2009 school year. The IEP team met on August 21, 2008, to review the student’s IEP. The parent participated in the IEP team meeting. The student’s transfer IEP noted the student had an “overreaction to normal touch making him more sensitive to the location of people around him.” The transfer IEP did not specify the student could not be touched.

The IEP developed by the district on August 21, 2008, included a statement of the student’s present level of functional performance noting the student “cannot tolerate physical touch.” Behavior was listed as a special factor and positive behavior interventions, strategies, and supports were documented.

An incident occurred on December 5, 2008, during which the student was touched by a staff member on the playground. The incident escalated and resulted in an out-of-school suspension. The IEP team was reconvened on December 11, 2008. In response to this incident, the IEP was revised to explicitly specify the student “not be touched unless hurting himself or others.” However, not all relevant staff were informed of the IEP team’s decision.

Districts must ensure regular education teachers, special education teachers, related services providers, and other service providers have access to a student’s IEP and are informed of the specific responsibilities related to implementing the accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided to a student in accordance with the IEP. Following receipt of the complaint, the district investigated the issues raised by the complainant. The district determined while all special and general education teachers who worked with the student were made aware of the student’s IEP, auxiliary staff, including lunchroom and playground staff, had not been informed of the content of the student’s IEP. On April 23, 2009, all staff in the student’s school were informed the student was not to be touched and were instructed on the appropriate behavior supports and strategies to use with the student per the student’s IEP. No further corrective action is required.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 5/26/09
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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For questions about this information, contact Patricia Williams (608) 267-3720