IDEA Complaint Decision 02-047

On July 15, 2002, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Birchwood Public Schools. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district:

  • in May 2002, failed to provide required aide support to a child with a disability to enable her to participate in extracurricular activities;
  • during the 2001-2002 school year, failed to follow proper procedures when it shortened the child's school day; and
  • during the 2001-2002 school year, in developing the child's individualized education program (IEP), failed to consider strategies to address behavior which impedes the child's learning or the learning of others.

The parent maintains that her daughter was not allowed to go on field trips because the district failed to provide a 1:1 aide. The complainant claims that the district told her there was not an aide available on the day of the field trips. On April 24, 2002, an IEP team met and determined the child is a child with a disability, developed special education programming, and offered a placement for the child. The summary of services indicates that a 1:1 aide would be provided when the student was doing kindergarten or first grade assignments in the regular education classroom. The district responded to the department that the student did not participate in two field trips after the IEP was developed on April 24, 2002. The student participated in all other extracurricular activities. The exclusions were part of the behavior strategies developed for the student and were not based on the unavailability of an aide. Parents and staff were in agreement that this strategy should be implemented. The district stated that, "Since the student had been participating in special education services for less that four weeks at that time, it was essential the teachers determine if the student's negative behaviors were willful, and could therefore be rewarded and consequenced, or if the correct behavior skills were not to be expected and needed to be taught directly." The district used field trips as a consequence for behavior. The department determines the child was not excluded from field trips due to the unavailability of an aide.

During the 2001-2002 school year, the complainant maintains the district shortened her child's school day to half-days. The district acknowledged that the student's day was shortened, in agreement with the parents, to half-days from February 10, 2002, to March 25, 2002, due to concerns that the child's tiredness was affecting her behavior at school. Because this occurred prior to the child being identified as a child with a disability, the district was not required to comply with special education law in deciding to shorten the child's day.

The complainant maintains that during the 2001-2002 school year, the district failed to consider strategies to address behavior which impedes the child's learning or the learning of others. Specifically, the complainant wanted the district to handle behavior situations at school rather than always calling her at home. The complainant also objected to her child being sent to the principal's office unless it was an emergency situation. The student's April 24, 2002, IEP addresses behavior issues and strategies for dealing with those behaviors. These interventions include anger management techniques, incentives/rewards, and charting. Three of the student's IEP goals and objectives address behavior issues. The IEP also states that the student will receive social skills instruction two times a week for 30 minutes each session. In the general education environment, the student receives modified assignments and 1:1 assistance to help with her behavior and academic needs. The department has determined that the district met the requirements related to this issue.

In response to this complaint, the district has agreed to schedule an IEP team meeting at the beginning of the 2002-2003 school year to determine how discipline issues will be handled and by whom, including participation in extracurricular activities. The IEP team will also address communication issues with the parents.

This concludes our review of this complaint, which we are closing.

//signed CST 9/12/02
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy

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