On May 27, 2010, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Green Bay Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2009-2010 school year, properly enabled a student with a disability to participate in an extracurricular activity.
Districts must take steps, including the provision of supplementary aids and services determined appropriate and necessary by the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team, to afford students with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in extracurricular services and activities. The complainant maintains the district improperly excluded the student from the school’s end-of-the-year field trip event because of an incident that occurred on April 29, 2010.
An incentive field trip is planned at the end of the year for each grade in the school the student attended. Participation in the incentive trip is dependent on acceptable student behavior following the formal announcement of the trip. The announcement is made approximately six to seven weeks prior to the trip. At this time, students are reminded of the school rules and policy that students who have discipline incidents may be excluded from the trip. Decisions to exclude students for behavioral reasons are made administratively on an individual basis. Any student suspended following the announcement is automatically excluded from the trip. For the 2009-2010 school year, all students were notified of the trip, and the behavioral expectations related to the trip, prior to April 29, 2010. In addition to the student who is the subject of this complaint, nine other students were excluded from the trip for disciplinary reasons, including one other student with a disability.
The student’s IEP, developed on April 21, 2010, specified the student could participate in regular extracurricular and non-academic activities. No needed supports or services were identified to allow the student to participate in such activities. The student’s IEP addressed behavior as a special factor, specified positive behavioral supports and strategies to be used, and included a detailed behavior intervention plan (BIP) with a crisis plan. On April 29, 2010, two behavior incidents occurred during the school day. The strategies outlined in the student’s BIP were followed in each case, and the student was able to follow his regular schedule. At the end of the day, an administrative decision was made that the student would not be allowed to participate in the end-of-the-year for behavioral reasons. The parent believed the punishment was too severe and shared her disagreement with the district. Following a number of conversations and email correspondence between district staff and the parent, it was agreed the student would be allowed to participate in the trip. A plan was drafted to provide additional supports to the student to ensure the student would be able to successfully participate in the field trip. It was expected the school’s discipline policy regarding participation in the end-of-the-year trip would continue to apply to the student. A meeting was scheduled for May 22 to finalize the plan.
On May 19, the student was involved in an incident that violated the student code of conduct and was suspended. Documentation provided by the district indicates the student’s BIP had been implemented throughout the day, as written. In accordance with the school’s discipline policy, the district had the right to exclude the student from participating in the end-of-the-year incentive trip as a result of the May 19th suspension.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
//signed CST 4/22/10
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy