The federal regulations for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes many provisions to protect the rights of parents and their child with a disability while also giving families and school systems means by which to resolve disputes. These rights are known as procedural safeguards. Parents and students have specific rights under this law to additional requirements for discipline under the statute 34 CR &300.530 (e) through the process of manifestation determination.
Under IDEA, the purpose of this review is to determine whether or not the child’s behavior that led to the disciplinary action is linked to his or her disability. Manifestation determinations were first included in IDEA with the 1997 amendments. Under IDEA 2004 the process has been simplified by limiting the requirement for a school district to perform a manifestation determination to school removals which constitute a change of placement under IDEA’s disciplinary procedures. It also does not require a manifestation determination for school removals for less than ten (10) consecutive school days that do not constitute a change in placement.
When is a manifestation determination review necessary? Under the statute, a manifestation determination must occur within ten (10) days of any decision to change the student’s placement because of a violation of a code of student conduct.
The school district, the parents and relevant members of the IEP team (determined by the parent and the school district) are involved in conducting the review. The purpose of this review is to determine two separate issues. The first issue is if the conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability. The second issue is if the conduct in question was a direct result of the school district’s failure to implement the IEP.
To make these determinations, the group will review all relevant information in the student’s file, including the child’s IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents.
If the determination is yes, there are only two possibilities when this would occur. These are when the behavior WAS a manifestation of the child’s disability or the direct result of the school district’s failure to implement the child’s IEP. If the answer is yes due to the behavior having a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability then two issues must be addressed.
• Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) – has the child had one? Does one need to be conducted?
• Behavioral intervention plan (BIP) – does the child have one? If so, does it need to be reviewed or revised? Or if the child does not have one, does one need to be written?
If the yes is for the district’s failure to implement the IEP then the school district must take immediate steps to remedy those deficiencies.
Placement is determined as well based on the severity of the behavior. Unless the behavior involved is one of the special circumstances – weapons, drugs or serious bodily injury – the child would be returned to the placement from which he/she had been removed as part of the disciplinary action. However, the parent and the school district can agree to a change of placement as part of the modification of the behavioral intervention plan.
More information regarding functional behavioral assessments (FBA) and behavioral intervention plans (BIP) will be available in upcoming articles.