IDEA Complaint Decision 11-009

On February 10, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the St. Francis School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district had knowledge that the student was a student with a disability when he was expelled in September 2010.

On September 1, 2010, the student engaged in behavior that violated the district’s code of student conduct. On September 9, the district sent the student and the parent notice of the expulsion hearing on September 20. The district received a request for evaluation of the student for special education on September 15. On September 20, the school board met and agreed to postpone the expulsion hearing until September 30. The district sent the notice of receipt of referral and parental rights on September 27. On September 30, the district determined that additional assessments were needed and requested parental consent for evaluation. On September 30, the parent gave consent for evaluation. The student was expelled by the School Board on September 30. On October 14, the individualized education program (IEP) team determined the student did not qualify for special education under Other Health Impairment or Emotional Behavioral Disability.

A student who has not been determined to be eligible for special education and related services and has engaged in behavior that violated a code of student conduct may assert any of the disciplinary protections afforded to students with disabilities if the district had knowledge that the student was a student with a disability before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action occurred. A district has knowledge that a student is a student with a disability, if, prior to the action subject to the discipline, the parent expressed concern in writing to supervisory or administrative personnel or to a teacher of the student that the student is in need of special education, the parent requested an evaluation of the student, or the teacher or other personnel of the district expressed specific concerns about a pattern of behavior directly to the director of special education or other supervisory personnel. Prior to September 1, 2010, the parent did not express concern in writing to supervisory or administrative personnel or to a teacher of the student that the student was in need of special education. The parent did not request an evaluation of the student prior to September 1. Similarly, no teachers or other personnel of the district expressed specific concerns about a pattern of behavior of the student to the director of special education or other supervisory personnel. There was no basis that the district had the requisite knowledge when he was expelled in September 2010.

If a request is made for an evaluation of the student during the time period in which the student is subjected to disciplinary measures, the evaluation must be completed in an expedited manner. The evaluation was expedited and completed 14 calendar days after parental consent for evaluation was granted, and the IEP team determined the student was not a student with a disability.

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

//signed CST 4/6/11
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