Students with disabilities may exhibit behavioral issues that families and school staff can work together to address. One of the first steps will be to have a conversation with your child’s school about the behavioral issues being exhibited. Next, you and your child’s school can determine what assessments and interventions will be necessary to support your child.
Your child/s school may request your permission to conduct an assessment to better understand the function of the behavior. Information gathered from assessments is used to develop strategies to prevent problem behavior, teach more appropriate behaviors, and respond in ways to increase positive behaviors and decrease inappropriate behaviors. The two most common forms of behavior assessment are:
- Classroom Observation: The process of observing a student during the school day in the classroom and other school settings to see how learning occurs, what behaviors are exhibited, and what circumstances are happening at the same time that may be impacting the behaviors.
- Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA): A problem-solving process used to identify the reasons for a behavior and the possible interventions that can be used address it. For more information about Functional Behavioral Assessments, see the New York State Education Department’s website here.
Schools should have system of behavior supports and interventions in place to help students manage behavior. The tiers of support should include:
- Whole school supports
- Classroom interventions
- Individualized supports
Once your child has received whole school and classroom interventions, you and your child’s school may determine that he or she is in need of individualized supports. The team may consider the following interventions:
Counseling: The purpose of counseling is to help students recognize and modify behaviors that interfere with learning. Counseling is recommended for students who demonstrate a significant delay or disability in social-emotional development and/or behavioral/emotional problems that impact the child’s ability to learn or acquire skills.
Parent Counseling and Training: This may be recommended to assist caregivers in understanding the special needs of their child, providing information about child development, and helping parents to acquire the necessary skills that will allow them to support the implementation of the IEP. This would include counseling parents how to respond at home to a student’s behavior in a manner consistent with the in-school behavior support plan.
- Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): Following an FBA, the IEP team may develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to address the behaviors. The BIP is a plan to address problem behavior that could include:
- positive behavioral interventions
- strategies and supports
- program accommodations or modifications and services that may be required to address the problem behavior
Know Your Child’s Rights
A student with a disability is entitled to a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR) when he/she is removed from his/her regular educational placement either due to suspension(s) or teacher removal(s):
for more than 10 school days in a row,
for more than 10 cumulative school days in a 40-day school-day period, or
for more than 10 total days in a school year if the behaviors are a pattern of removals
The MDR is a meeting that includes you and members of your child’s IEP team. The purpose of the meeting is to determine whether or not the behavior that led to the suspension was a result of the student's disability or is due to a failure to implement the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Whether or not the behavior is a manifestation of the student’s disability, the school will take additional steps to examine the student’s behavior and provide additional supports where needed.
There are two possible outcomes of the MDR:
- If the MDR team determines that the behavior was a result of his/her disability or that the Department failed to implement the IEP, the student may not be suspended or removed from his regular educational placement, except in limited circumstances.
- If the MDR team determines that the behavior that led to the disciplinary action is not found to be a direct result of the student’s disability, then the student may be subject to disciplinary action.
- When a student with a disability is suspended for more than 10 consecutive school days, a suspension plan will be developed by the school or the suspension site that describes the special education services the student will receive during the period of his or her suspension.
If you would like to appeal the MDR action, you have the right to request an expedited Impartial Hearing to appeal the MDR outcome.
Learn more by reviewing the MDR worksheet used by staff, reading the Discipline Code, visiting the Impartial Hearing Office website and/or by reviewing the New York State Procedural Safeguards Notice.