IDEA Complaint Decision 01-069

On October 4, 2001, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The issues in this complaint are whether the district:

  • improperly changed the placement for a child with a disability;
  • failed to ensure that the childs individualized education program (IEP) was accessible to staff responsible for its implementation between August 27 and September 11, 2001;
  • failed to respond properly to the parents request for an IEP team meeting; and
  • failed to provide a child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE) after September 11, 2001, when the child had a significant number of school absences.

This is the departments decision regarding that complaint.

On May 1, 2001, an IEP team determined that the childs placement would continue at his current school. On July 3, the office of management information system (MIS) changed the childs school assignment for the 2001-02 school year to a different elementary school. On July 6, a letter sent to the parent informed her of the childs school assignment. On August 27, the first day of school, the child entered the assigned school, to start the 2001-2002 school year. The childs IEP was not reviewed to determine whether it can be implemented as written in the new school building and a notice of placement was not completed and sent to the parent following the review but before the student began attending.

On September 11, the childs mother requested an IEP team meeting to review and revise the childs IEP and change placement. An LEA should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP team meeting. On September 17, 2001, an IEP team meeting was held. The district properly responded to the parents request for an IEP team meeting. On September 17 placement was determined for the child. On October 29, 2001, an IEP team determined placement for the child at another school which the child began attending on November 5, 2001.

The district is revising and implementing a consolidated corrective action plan (CCAP) regarding several complaints to ensure that the district follows required procedures related to determining educational placements for children with disabilities. Department staff will continue to work closely with the district to assist in its review, revision, and implementation of the placement CCAP. Because IEP teams determined a placement for the child on September 17 and October 29, additional child specific corrective action is not required.

The childs IEP was not accessible to staff responsible for its implementation at the new school between August 27 and September 13, 2001. A local education agency (LEA) must ensure that IEPs are accessible to each regular education teacher, special education teacher, related service provider, and other service provider who is responsible for its implementation. The district is in the process of scheduling an IEP team meeting for the child. The district plans to address whether the child requires additional services because the IEP was not accessible to staff responsible for providing the services stated in the IEP, between August 27 and September 13, 2001. The district will send the department a copy of the childs IEP documenting the IEP teams decision by December 30, 2001. The district also must submit to the department by December 30, 2001, a corrective action plan (CAP) to ensure that the IEPs for children with disabilities are accessible to staff responsible for providing the services stated in the IEPs following a transfer from one building to another in the district.

State statute defines a habitual truant as a pupil who is absent from school without an acceptable excuse on part or all of 5 or more days on which school is held during a school semester. Between September 10, 2001, and October 4, 2001, the child was truant on 10 days. School attendance staff made telephone calls to the childs parent regarding the childs attendance. On September 27, 2001, the child was a habitual truant. On September 28, district staff notified the childs parent of the childs truancy with a telephone call. Between October 5 and October 24 the child was truant 13 more days. On October 22, the school principal sent the parent a habitual truancy letter. A district is required to notify the childs parent by registered or certified mail when the child initially becomes a habitual truant. The district did not notify the parent by registered or certified mail when the child initially became a habitual truant on September 27, 2001. However, the district continued to communicate with the parent between September 27 and October 29.

A school district must provide each child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A school district meets its obligation to provide FAPE to a child with a disability, in part, by providing special education and related services. When a child with a disability has a significant number of absences, the district has a duty to take timely action to provide the child FAPE. The district may modify the childs educational program or placement to address the absences. On September 17, 2001, at an IEP team meeting the team discussed the childs attendance. The childs parent requested at the meeting that the district change the childs placement. The district did not modify the childs educational program or placement to address the absences. On September 28, October 1, 2 and 10 a special education supervisor called the childs parent regarding the childs school attendance. On October 29, an IEP team modified the childs educational program and placement. The district did not take timely action to provide the child FAPE, after the child initially became a habitual truant on September 27. During the planned IEP team meeting noted above, the district also will address whether the child requires additional services because the district did not take timely action after the child initially became an habitual truant. The district will send the department a copy of the childs IEP documenting the IEP teams decision by December 30, 2001.

The district is revising and implementing a CCAP regarding several complaints to ensure that the district takes timely action, consistent with district truancy procedures and state laws, to provide children with FAPE. Department staff will continue to work closely with the district to assist in its review, revision, and implementation of the placement CCAP.

//signed CST 12/3/01
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