IDEA Complaint Decision 01-049

On June 13, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district failed to arrange a childs June 8, 2001, individualized education program (IEP) team meeting at a mutually agreed time with the required participants at the meeting, and improperly excluded the child from school for more than ten days during the 2000-2001 school year.

The district scheduled individualized education program (IEP) team meetings on May 25 and May 29, 2001, to develop a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) for the child. These meetings were not held because the parent was unable to attend. The district Coordinator of Parent Services contacted the childs mother by telephone to schedule an IEP team meeting at a mutually agreed on time. It was verbally agreed that the meeting would be scheduled for June 8, at 3:00 PM. On June 2, the childs parent was sent an invitation to the meeting. On June 8, 2001, the IEP team meeting was held to develop a BIP for the child. A special education teacher, a representative of the local educational agency, and the parents advocate attended the meeting. The parent and a regular education teacher of the child did not attend the meeting. The parent advocate shared a letter at the meeting from the childs parent objecting to the meeting being held at a time which was not convenient for her. The district had attempted to schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed time. However, there is no documentation that the district attempted to use other methods to ensure the parents participation when the parent did not attend the scheduled meeting. The IEP team meeting was held without the required IEP team members present and without the parents participation. The district will conduct an IEP team meeting for this student at a mutually agreed time or the district otherwise will ensure the parents participation. The district must submit a plan within 30 days of receipt of this decision to ensure that if the parent does not attend an IEP team meeting, the district attempts to use other methods to ensure parent participation and that IEP team meetings are conducted with all required IEP team members attending.

The principal and assistant principal of the childs school acknowledge the child was suspended for more than ten days during the 2000-2001 school year and the childs attendance record documents 15 cumulative days of out-of-school suspensions during that year. On January 26, 2001, the childs out-of-school suspensions exceeded ten cumulative days in the school year. It was not until June 8 that the IEP team developed a BIP for the child, but the team did not include all the required IEP team members and the team only partially completed a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). Beginning on the 11th day of suspension in the school year, the district was obligated to provide services for the child to the extent necessary to enable her to progress appropriately in the general curriculum and advance appropriately toward achieving annual goals, and to take actions regarding a FBA. The district suspended the student without meeting these requirements. In addition, before a child may be removed from her current placement for more than ten school days in a school year, school officials must determine whether an additional removal would result in a change of placement. If the district decides that a change in placement would occur, it must conduct an IEP team meeting and determine whether the conduct is a manifestation of the student's disability. The district failed to address this requirement as well. Prior to the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year, the IEP team must develop a plan for conducting an FBA. By September 10, 2001, the FBA must be completed and the IEP team must develop a BIP to address the childs behavior problems at school. The district must submit documentation of these child-specific corrective actions to the department by October 1, 2001.

On November 15, 2000, the district submitted a plan of correction to the department related to several complaints ensuring that the district follows required procedures when a child with a disability is subjected to disciplinary removals including suspensions from school. Based upon this complaint investigation, complaint #01-040 and the departments May 2001 on-site compliance monitoring of the district, it appears that the corrective actions undertaken by the district to date have not been sufficient to remedy the issue of disciplinary removals. Therefore, the department directs the district to review its current plan related to disciplinary removals of children with disabilities and amend it to include additional corrective actions that will effectively address this issue. Department staff will work closely with the district to assist in its review, revision, and implementation of the amended discipline CAP. The revised CAP must be submitted to the department for review by September 10, 2001.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 8/2/01
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/jfd

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