IDEA Complaint Decision 11-035

On September 12, October 3 and October 14, 2011, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received complaints under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). This is the department’s decision regarding these complaints. The issue is whether the district, during the 2011-2012 school year, properly changed placement for three students with a disability. The three students all attend the same school and are referred to as students A, B and C below.

Student A:

On November 24, 2010, an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting was held to review and revise student A’s IEP and determine placement. Student A’s parent and a child advocate attended the meeting. The IEP team determined student A would be placed in the special education environment for the entire school day.

On September 2, 2011, student A was enrolled in a regular education art class and a regular education poetry class. Student A was removed from the special education environment and placed 120 minutes a day in the regular education environment. The student’s placement was not properly changed because it was not changed pursuant to an IEP team meeting. It is the school’s practice that all students in regular and special education have two fine arts vocational education (FAVE) classes in regular education classrooms. Between September 1 and September 30, 2011, the student’s IEP was not implemented because of this change in placement.

On September 30, 2011, an IEP team meeting was held to develop an annual IEP and determine placement. Student A’s parent and an advocate attended the meeting. Student A’s IEP special education services were revised to include four hours a day in the special education environment and two hours a day in the regular education environment to begin September 30, 2011. On September 30, Student A’s parent was provided a determination and notice of placement with a copy of the IEP. The projected date of implementation on the placement notice is September 30, 2011. On September 30, the district properly changed placement for student A. However, this IEP was not fully implemented. The student's IEP requires special education services in the general education environment which were not provided. In addition, the supplementary aids and services required in the regular education environment were not provided. These services were not provided between September 30, 2011, and October 31, 2011.

Student B:

On February 10, 2011, an IEP team meeting was held to develop an annual IEP, develop a transition statement, and determine placement. Student B’s parent attended the meeting. The IEP team determined student B would receive special education services in the special education environment for the entire school day.

On August 31, 2011, student B was enrolled in an orchestra class and a physical education class in the regular education environment. On September 6, student B was withdrawn from the orchestra class and was enrolled in a regular education art class. The student’s placement was not properly changed because it was not changed pursuant to an IEP team meeting. Between September 1 and October 5, 2011, student B’s IEP was not implemented because of the change in placement.

On October 5, 2011, an IEP team meeting was held and Student B, his parent, and an advocate attended the meeting. Student B’s IEP was revised to include five hours a day in a special education environment and one hour a day in the regular education environment to begin October 5, 2011. On October 5, the district properly changed placement for student B. However, student B did not receive the special education services in the regular education class as required by the student’s October 5th IEP.

On October 24, 2011, another IEP team meeting was held and Student B’s IEP was revised to include four hours a day in the special education environment and two hours a day in the regular education environment to begin October 24, 2011. On October 24, Student B’s parent was provided a determination and notice of placement with a copy of the IEP. On October 24, the district properly changed placement for student B. However, student B did not consistently receive the special education services as provided for in the October 24th IEP.

Student C:

On March 29, 2011, an IEP team meeting was held to develop an annual IEP and determine placement. Student C’s parent attended the meeting. The IEP team determined student C would receive special education services in the special education environment for the entire school day. The IEP also provided for the related service of psychological services 30 minutes one time a month.

On August 31, 2011, student C was enrolled in a music class and a physical education class in the regular education environment. On September 7, 2011, student C was withdrawn from the music class and added a graphic arts class also in the regular education environment. This change in placement was not made pursuant to an IEP team meeting. Between September 1 and October 6, 2011, the student’s IEP as determined by the March 29, 2011, IEP was not implemented because of the change in placement.

On October 6, 2011, an IEP team meeting was held to review and revise student C’s IEP and determine placement. Student C, his parent, and an advocate attended the meeting. Student C’s IEP special education services were revised to include four hours a day in a special education environment and two hours a day in the regular education environment to begin October 6, 2011. On October 6, Student C’s parent was provided a determination and notice of placement with a copy of the IEP. On October 6, the district properly changed placement for student C. However, student C is not receiving the special education services in the two regular education classes as required by the student’s October 6th IEP. Between October 6 and November 2, student C’s IEP was not implemented.

In Wisconsin, an IEP team determines the special education placement for a child with a disability. Placement refers to the environment in which the child is receiving the services. Removing the student from the special education environment and placing him in a regular education environment constituted a change in placement. For all three students, placements were changed without conducting an IEP team meeting. The district did not properly change the placement for the three students with a disability.

A school district must provide each child with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A school district documents its obligation to provide a student with a FAPE through the IEP. The district has not consistently implemented the three students’ IEPs during the 2011-2012 school year. The district did not provide the students’ special education services in the regular education classrooms as required by the students’ IEPs.

By December 2, 2011, the district must conduct an IEP team meeting for students A, B and C to review and revise the individual students’ IEPs, and determine if each student requires special education, related services or supplementary aids and services, or if compensatory services are needed for the time when the student’s IEP was not implemented. By December 15, 2011, the district must provide the department a copy of each student’s IEP with the decision regarding compensatory education clearly documented.

The district is in the process of implementing a previously developed corrective action plan to ensure all district special education staff and school principals understand the requirements regarding changing a student’s placement and following required procedures when a child’s IEP is changed without an IEP team meeting.

In addition by December 10, 2011, the district must review the current IEPs for all students attending this district middle school to determine if the students’ placements were made properly and if the students’ IEPs are being implemented because of the school’s practice to require that all students take two fine arts vocational education (FAVE) classes in the regular education classroom environment.

By December 10, 2011, the district must provide the department a chart documenting the review for all students including specific information for each student. DPI staff will assist district staff in the design of the chart and approve the chart design before utilization. For each student for whom the placement was not properly made and the IEP not implemented, an IEP team meeting must be conducted to determine placement and if the student requires special education, related services or supplementary aids and services, if the student needs compensatory services. Following completion of corrective actions for the school, DPI staff will conduct compliance verification.

All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, and no more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint. You may contact Janice Duff, Special Education Team, at (414) 227-1845 if you have any questions about this decision or for technical assistance.

//signed CST 11/11/2011
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