IDEA Complaint Decision 01-059

On August 21, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law by XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the departments decision regarding that complaint. The issue is whether the district, during the 2000-2001 school year, failed to follow requirements related to removing a child with a disability from school for more than ten days in a school year.

The students attendance records and disciplinary incident reports for the 2000-2001 school year indicate that she was suspended out of school for 11 to 15 cumulative days. During the investigation, the district acknowledged to the department that the student was suspended out of school at least 11 cumulative days. The department is unable to determine from the students records and interviews with district staff exactly how many days beyond 10 cumulative days the student was removed from school during the 2000-2001 school year. This is consistent with one of the departments findings following its May 2001 on-site compliance review that the districts systems for recording and tracking disciplinary removals of students with disabilities from school are inadequate to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education when they are removed for greater than 10 days in a school year.

On March 22, 2001, the students out-of-school suspensions exceeded 10 cumulative days in the school year. The district did not hold an IEP team meeting to develop a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) plan and a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) for the student. The district failed to follow required procedures when it suspended the student from school for more than 10 cumulative days in the school year. Within 15 days of the date of this decision, the IEP team must develop a plan for conducting an FBA. The FBA must be completed, and the IEP team must develop a BIP, if needed by the child, to address the students behavior problems at school. The district must submit documentation of these child-specific corrective actions to the department within 20 days of the date of this decision.

On November 15, 2000, the district submitted a corrective action plan (CAP) to the department related to several complaints ensuring that the district follows required procedures when a student with a disability is subjected to disciplinary removals including suspensions from school. The department also directed the district to take corrective actions related to the districts procedures for disciplinary removals following the May 2001 on-site compliance review. In a complaint decision dated June 29, 2001, the department directed the district to review its existing CAP related to disciplinary removals of children with disabilities and amend the CAP to include additional corrective actions. On August 8, 2001, the district submitted a revised CAP related to disciplinary removals which was approved by the department. The department will continue its oversight of the districts implementation of the amended complaint and monitoring CAPs related to the disciplinary removals of children with disabilities.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed 10/9/01
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

Dec/smp

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