IDEA Complaint Decision 13-010

On February 19, 2013, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the New Berlin School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2012-13 school year, properly enabled the student to participate in extracurricular activities, and implemented the individualized education program (IEP) regarding providing assistance with organization skills and checking the assignment notebook.

Local district policy requires all students wishing to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities to meet certain requirements including maintaining a minimum grade point average (GPA) and receiving no more than one failing grade or incomplete. Such a policy is allowable as long as it does not discriminate against any group of students, including students with disabilities. The district routinely sends to parents of students not meeting the requirements a standard letter notifying them of the district’s policy. The letter specifies options for regaining eligibility and provides contact information if the parent has questions. On November 16, 2012, and February 4, 2013, such letters were sent to the parent of the student. The student had signed up to participate in a school sport that would begin practices during the spring of 2013. After receiving the February 4 letter, the parent sent an email to the school, asking that the student be taken off the roster for the sport. According to district staff, it is common practice to adjust the policy based on IEP needs when a student or the student’s parent indicates an interest in participation. However, the parent removed the student from the roster before the season started and there is no indication the parent or student questioned the content of the letter or requested the district to consider an exception to the GPA requirement. The district did not deny the student the right to participate in extracurricular activities.

The student’s IEP in effect at the start of the 2012-13 school year included the special education services of ten minutes per week of individual organizational skills and the supplementary aid and service of random assignment notebook checks two times per week. On November 8, 2012, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP to be in effect from November 22, 2012, through November 21, 2013. The parents participated in the meeting. The revised IEP continued to include ten minutes per week of individual organizational skills instruction. Daily assignment notebook checks by the teacher and parent was added as a supplementary aid and service.

The district acknowledges special education organizational skills instruction was not provided during the 2012-13 school year, and assignment notebook checks were not completed daily between November 22, 2012, and February 18, 2013, as required by the IEP. Following a number of emails between the parent and district staff, a meeting was held between the parent and school staff on February 11, 2013, to discuss the parent’s concerns regarding communication about the student’s assignments. This meeting was not an IEP team meeting. The next day, specific strategies were developed to more effectively ensure the student’s assignment notebook was checked and provided to the parent as per the IEP. Correspondence was sent to the parent on February 14, 2013, describing the new strategies that would be used beginning the following Monday, February 18. The supplementary aid and service of daily checking the student’s assignment notebook was properly implemented from February 18 until February 26, 2013, when the parent revoked consent for special education.

Since the parent has revoked consent for special education, the district may no longer provide special education services to the student. Therefore, there is no student specific corrective action required. Within 30 days of this decision, the district must submit a corrective action plan to ensure the IEPs of all students with disabilities enrolled in the building where the student is enrolled are implemented as written.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 4/17/2013
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support

Dec/pfv

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