IDEA Complaint Decision 07-072

On October 12, 2007, the Department of Public Instruction received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Milwaukee Public Schools. This is the department’s decision regarding that complaint. The issues are whether the district provided required transportation consistent with a child’s individualized education program (IEP) between September 4 and October 12, 2007, and properly responded to a parent’s requests for an IEP team meeting to consider a change in placement.

On November 29, 2006, the district held an IEP team meeting to review and revise the child’s IEP, develop a transition statement, complete a reevaluation, develop an annual IEP, and determine placement. The child’s mother attended the meeting along with a parent advocate. The IEP team decided the child’s IEP would be implemented at a district middle school and the child provided the related service of door to door yellow bus transportation to and from school. During the 2006-2007 school year the child received transportation to and from school.

During summer 2007, the district combined the student’s middle school with another school and the student was assigned to the newly organized school for the 2007-2008 school year. The child was provided transportation between September 4 and 24. On September 24, the child’s mother called the special education supervisor and informed her that they were moving to a new address. The address is outside of the transportation region for the child’s school. The special education supervisor informed the mother that she had the following choices: 1) transport her child to and from school; 2) select a different school; 3) request transportation at a corner route or; 4) request small vehicle transportation. The parent requested time to discuss the options with a parent advocate. On September 25, 26, 27, 28, and October 1 the child was not provided transportation. On September 27, the child’s mother and the parent advocate talked to the special education supervisor and they agreed that the student would be transported from the child’s original address (grandparent’s home) until a school was assigned within the student’s new transportation region. Transportation was resumed on October 2.

On September 27, the special education supervisor spoke to the parent advocate and submitted a school reservation worksheet for a school assignment requested by the parent. On October 17, the special education supervisor talked to the child’s mother and they agreed to hold an IEP team meeting. On October 24, the district held an IEP team meeting to review and revise the child’s IEP, develop a transition statement, consider compensatory services, and determine placement. The child’s mother participated in the meeting by telephone. The IEP team determined the student’s IEP would be implemented at a different middle school beginning October 25. The team discussed the need for compensatory services due to transportation and placement concerns resulting from the move out of the school transportation region and sporadic attendance between September 24 and the date the student received the new school assignment.

The law requires a school district to hold IEP team meetings periodically to review a child’s IEP but not less than annually. Parents may request an IEP meeting at any time. A school district should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP team meeting. On September 24 and 27, the child’s parent requested a new school assignment due to the move into a new transportation region but did not request an IEP team meeting. When a student moves into a new transportation region within the district, the new school will be assigned in the same way that schools are assigned for non-disabled students (attendance area, citywide specialty, School Selection Process, Elementary and Secondary Education Act No Child Left Behind). The presumption is that the child will receive their IEP services in the school they would attend if not disabled. When transportation is a related service, it must be continued uninterrupted. In this case the parent and special education supervisor decided to hold an IEP team meeting to determine the new school assignment and determine if compensatory services were required because transportation was not provided on 5 days. No additional student specific corrective action is required.

By January 18, 2008, the district must review and revise if needed special education transportation procedures to ensure transportation as a related services is provided to students uninterrupted when the student moves from one transportation region to another or is assigned, or is waiting to be assigned, to a different school. All special education leadership liaisons, special services supervisors, principals and appropriate district transportation staff must be provided training on the procedures to ensure uninterrupted transportation services as described in the individual student’s IEPs. By February 15, 2008, the district must send to DPI a copy of the district procedures and a signed assurance that all identified staff has been provided training.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 12/10/07
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