Overuse of Discipline for Students With Disabilities May Violate IDEA Schools that overuse disciplinary actions in response to misbehavior by students with disabilities—rather than providing positive behavior supports—may be noncompliant with federal law. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued guidance on implementing and using positive behavior supports in a “Dear Colleague” letter ... News in Brief
Free
News in Brief  |   October 01, 2016
Overuse of Discipline for Students With Disabilities May Violate IDEA
Author Notes
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   October 01, 2016
Overuse of Discipline for Students With Disabilities May Violate IDEA
The ASHA Leader, October 2016, Vol. 21, 10-11. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB5.21102016.10
The ASHA Leader, October 2016, Vol. 21, 10-11. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB5.21102016.10
Schools that overuse disciplinary actions in response to misbehavior by students with disabilities—rather than providing positive behavior supports—may be noncompliant with federal law.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued guidance on implementing and using positive behavior supports in a “Dear Colleague” letter to all state and local education agencies.
The letter emphasizes that schools must provide these supports to students with disabilities who need them, and that the alternative—repeated discipline, especially suspensions or other actions that remove students from school—likely violates the “free, appropriate education” clause of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
An OSERS summary highlights the main points of the guidance:
  • IDEA requires IEP teams to consider using positive behavioral interventions and supports for children with disabilities whose behavior interferes with their own and others’ learning.

  • A child’s inappropriate behavior may indicate the need for behavior supports in the child’s IEP, especially if the behavior is regular and/or results in the child’s exclusion from school.

  • For a child with such supports in the IEP, inappropriate behavior may indicate that the supports are not being appropriately implemented or are not appropriate for the child, and the IEP team should amend the IEP or revise the interventions and supports.

  • Supports included in the IEP (such as instruction on school expectations for behavior, violence-prevention programs, anger-management groups, counseling, life-skills training, social-skills instruction) should be based on peer-reviewed research and individualized to the child’s needs.

  • Supports for school personnel and training on the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports may be needed to appropriately address a particular child’s behavior.

  • Research demonstrates that positive behavior supports are most effective when delivered school-wide within an evidence-based, multi-tiered framework that provides clear expectations, targeted intervention for small groups who do not respond to school-wide supports, and individualized supports for those who need them.

  • Placing a child with a disability in special classes, separate schooling or other restrictive settings outside of the regular classroom based solely on behavior if the behavior can be effectively addressed in the regular education setting with behavior supports could violate IDEA’s “least restrictive environment” requirement.

  • Research has shown that suspension—or other exclusions in general—do not reduce or eliminate misbehavior and may be harmful to the child.

  • Parents have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time, and may do so following disciplinary removal or changes in the child’s behavior that impede learning. These events may indicate that the IEP does not properly address the child’s needs or is not being implemented properly.

The letter steers teachers and administrators to two online resources:
The Department of Education has updated its school discipline webpage to better address school discipline and to shine a spotlight on inequities. The resource contains data, graphics and other information on the prevalence, impact and legal implications of suspensions and expulsions; resources on effective alternatives; and ways to effectively create positive school climates.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
October 2016
Volume 21, Issue 10