On January 14, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the De Forest Area School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2012-13 school year:
- Followed special education disciplinary requirements,
- Implemented the student’s individualized education program (IEP), and
- Properly considered the use of positive behavioral interventions, supports, and other strategies to address behavior.
On August 29, 2012, the student’s annual IEP meeting was held. The IEP included a behavioral intervention plan and other supports. The IEP team determined the student did not have a need for specialized transportation, and it was not included in the IEP. The school tracks its attendance in whole or half day increments. On September 18 and October 10, the student was suspended for a half day. On October 8, the student was sent home during the last hour of the school day. After each disciplinary removal school staff implemented interventions that reduced the need for disciplinary removal such as adding incentives to the reward system, assistance during transition periods, and playgroups.
During the fall, the student began to have problems with another student on the bus. School staff intervened and the student was asked to use an assigned seat on the bus. School staff reviewed the student’s bus history and believed it was an isolated incident, but asked the student to sit in an assigned seat in the front of the bus. On January 9, 2013, school staff received a report that the problems between the students continued. The allegations were investigated and the student was suspended from bus transportation for ten days. On January 11, the bus suspension was reduced to three days. The three day suspension began on Monday, January 14 and resulted in one day of nonattendance at school. On February 4, the student refused to sit in the assigned seat and delayed the bus departure. The student was suspended from the bus on February 13, 14, and 15 but the student attended school during this suspension. On February 6, the IEP team and bus service director met to revise the student’s IEP to include bus strategies such as providing the student with a notebook to journal and a MP3 player to listen to on the bus ride, extra incentives towards the behavior plan at school for successful bus rides, and a protocol for dealing with student refusal to board the bus. The district properly considered the use of positive behavioral supports to address the student’s bus behavior and properly implemented the IEPs.
The parents of a child with a disability may request an IEP team meeting at any time, and districts must grant any reasonable parent request. On January 15, the parent requested an IEP team meeting to include specific staff and an outside advocate to discuss the student’s transportation needs. The district and the parent communicated back and forth, and an IEP team meeting was scheduled for February 6. February 6 was the first day that worked for the parent, district staff, and the outside advocate. The district properly responded to a parent’s request for an IEP team meeting.
Beginning on the 11th cumulative school day of removal in a school year, and during subsequent removals, the district must provide services to the extent necessary to enable the student to continue to participate appropriately in the general curriculum, although in another setting, and appropriately advance toward achieving the IEP goals. The student’s disciplinary removals did not exceed 10 days and the above special education disciplinary requirements do not apply.
This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.
//signed CST 3/13/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support