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IDEA Complaint Decision 17-046

On June 6, 2017, the Department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the XXXXX School District. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2016-17 school year, properly responded to a request from the parent of a student with a disability to change the student’s placement, properly changed the student’s placement, and properly implemented the individualized education program (IEP) of a student with a disability.

Each child identified as a child with a disability must be provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE), including special education and related services that are provided at public expense under public supervision and direction, meet the standards of the department, and are provided in conformity with an IEP. In Wisconsin, it is a duty of the IEP team to develop the student’s IEP and determine the student’s special education placement. The district must timely respond to a parent’s request to a change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the student or the provision of FAPE.

The student’s IEP in effect at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year was developed on August 29, 2016, and services were to be provided from September 1, 2016, through November 8, 2016. The student’s parent attended the meeting with an advocacy specialist. Between October 12 and October 21, 2016, the student was excused from school attendance due to medical reasons. On October 21, the student was enrolled in a district collaborative alternative classroom day treatment program located at a healthcare facility. On October 24, the parent requested mediation through the Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System (WSEMS). On November 2, 2016, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise the student’s IEP and determine continuing placement to be provided starting November 11. Between October 21, 2016, and November 11, 2016, the student’s IEP was not implemented.

The student was dismissed from the alternative program located at the healthcare facility on December 6, 2016. On December 7, 2016, the parent informed the principal at the student’s former district school that the student had been dismissed from the alternative program. The parent stated that the student’s doctor suggested homebound education. On December 9, a written referral requesting homebound education was sent by fax to the school social worker. The district did not schedule an IEP team meeting in response to this request. In mid-January 2017, the district began providing the student instruction four hours a week in the student’s home. However, this placement was not determined by the student’s IEP team and the services were not provided in accordance with the student’s IEP. District staff erroneously informed the parent they could not discuss the student’s services or placement because the parent had requested mediation. While conversations occurring in the context of mediation are confidential, the district continued to be obligated to provide the student services in accordance with an IEP during the pendency of the mediation process. Although the parent requested mediation October 24, 2016, mediation sessions were not held until December 14, 2016; January 18, 2017; and March 29, 2017, due to district scheduling delays.

On April 24, 2017, the student began attending a different district school on a reduced day schedule. This change in placement was not determined by the student’s IEP team. No IEP team meeting was held until May 15, 2017. The IEP team determined starting the 2017-2018 school year the student would attend school full days.

Between October 21 and November 11, 2016, and again from December 7, 2016, until May 22, 2017, the student’s IEP was not implemented. Furthermore, throughout the 2016-2017 school year, the student’s placement was not properly changed through an IEP team meeting. In addition, the district did not properly respond to the parent’s December 7, 2016, request for homebound services.

Within 30 days of the date of this decision, the district must review and revise, if needed, the current corrective action plan (CAP), approved June 20, 2017, to ensure IEPs are properly implemented. In addition, a CAP must be developed to ensure the district properly responds to a request from the parent of a student with a disability to change the student’s placement, and placements are properly determined by IEP teams at IEP team meetings. Before September 1, 2017, the district must reconvene an IEP team meeting for the student who is the subject of this complaint to determine the compensatory services required for services not provided during the 2016-2017 school year. Within 10 days of conducting the IEP team meeting the district must provide the department a copy of the revised IEP, with documentation of the decision regarding compensatory services.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/9/2017
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support