IDEA Complaint Decision 12-029

On May 29, 2012, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Racine Unified School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, in June 2011, had knowledge that the student was a child with a disability when he was expelled.

A child who has not been determined to be eligible for special education who engages in behavior that violates a code of student conduct, may assert protections provided for in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) if the school district had knowledge that the child was a child with disability before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action occurred. A school district is deemed to have knowledge that a child is a child with a disability if, before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action, the parent of the child expressed concern in writing to supervisory or administrative personnel or a teacher of the child that the child is in need of special education and related services. A school district is also deemed to have knowledge that a child is a child with a disability if before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action the parent of the child requested a special education evaluation of the child or the teacher of the child, or other personnel of the district, expressed specific concerns about a pattern of behavior demonstrated by the child directly to the director of special education or other supervisory personnel of the district.

On June 3, 2011, the child engaged in behavior that violated the school district’s code of student conduct. On July 7, 2011, an expulsion hearing was conducted and the child was expelled to the end of the first semester of the 2011-12 school year. During the 2010-11 school year, before the June 3, incident, the student was suspended or removed from school for behavior that violated the code of student conduct 14 times. On May 3, 2011, a student support team meeting was held to discuss the student’s behavior and social needs. The parent participated in the meeting. During the 2010-11 school year the parent of the child did not express concern in writing to supervisory or administrative personnel or a teacher of the child that the child is in need of special education and related services and did not request a special education evaluation of the child. During the 2010-11 school year no teacher of the child, or other personnel of the district, expressed specific concerns about the pattern of behavior demonstrated by the child directly to the director of special education or other supervisory personnel of the district. The district did not have knowledge that the child is a child with a disability when the child was expelled in July 2011, and thus the special education discipline requirement did not apply.

The child’s parent also expressed concern that the child was not referred right away when the child returned to school after the expulsion. On January 13, 2012, staff at a different district elementary school held a student support team meeting to prepare for the student’s reinstatement at the beginning of the second semester of the 2011-12 school year. On January 23, the child was re-enrolled at the district elementary school. On February 9, a district school psychologist completed a referral form for a special education evaluation based on request from the student’s regular education teacher and the parent. On March 13, the student’s parent returned the signed permission to administer assessments and other evaluations. On April 19, an IEP team meeting was conducted and the student was determined to be a child with a disability. At the start of second semester of the 2011-12 school year the district properly referred the child for a special education evaluation.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing. You may contact Janice Duff, Special Education Team, at (414) 227-1845 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 7/19/2012
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

Dec/jfd

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