IDEA Complaint Decision 09-050

On July 16, 2009, 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, during the 2008-2009 school year:

  • considered positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address behavior impeding learning of a student with a disability;
  • provided the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) when the student had a significant number of school absences due to truancy and suspensions;
  • followed required discipline procedures when suspending the student; and
  • implemented provisions of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) related to the amount and frequency of extended school year services during the summer of 2009.

In the case of a student whose behavior impedes the student’s learning or that of others an IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies to address that behavior. The IEPs in effect for the student during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years all include positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies to address behavior. However, the district has agreed to conduct an IEP team meeting to review and further address positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies to address behavior in the student’s 2009-2010 IEP.

A school district must provide each child with a disability 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 student with a disability has a significant number of absences, the district has a duty to take timely action to provide the student FAPE. The district may modify the student’s educational program or placement to address the absences. When a student is absent from school without an acceptable excuse part, or all of, five or more days on which school is held during a semester, the student becomes an habitual truant. A district is required to notify the student’s parent by registered or certified mail when the student initially becomes an habitual truant. In addition, either before or not later than ten business days after either removing a student for more than ten school days in a school year or commencing a removal that constitutes a change of placement for a student with a disability, the school district must convene an IEP team meeting to develop appropriate behavioral interventions to address the student’s behavior. The district must provide the student services on days of removal after the student’s school removals exceeded ten cumulative days. The district acknowledges they did not provide the student FAPE when the student had a significant number of school absences due to truancy and suspensions, and did not follow required procedures when suspending or improperly excluding the student from school.

The student’s June 17, 2009 IEP includes extended school year special education services four hours/five times per week between July 6 and July 31, 2009. The district acknowledges it did not implement provisions of the student’s IEP related to the amount and frequency of extended school year services during the summer of 2009.

By October 14, the district must provide the department with a corrective action plan to ensure at the student’s school of attendance, FAPE is provided when a student with a disability has a significant number of school absences due to truancy and suspension; discipline procedures are followed when suspending students; and IEPs are implemented for extended school year. In addition, by October 14, the district must provide the department with a copy of the student’s IEP clearly documenting the IEP team’s consideration and decision regarding compensatory services.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.

This concludes our review of this complaint.

//signed CST 9/14/09
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