It’s Toolbox Tuesday. Tell us about Tool #9.

The Toolbox is a set of practical steps that campus administrators can take in dealing with violent or disruptive students with disabilities.  The law imposes two requirements on schools in serving such students.  We must serve the student appropriately, while maintaining a safe and orderly environment for all the students. This week we focus on Tool #9--leadership at the non-consensus ARD meeting.

This tool is necessary because there will inevitably be times when the school and the parents are not able to come to an agreement as to how, or where, the student will be served.  These disagreements will come up at ARD meetings. The person serving as administrative representative--usually a principal or assistant--needs to have the skills to bring the meeting to closure, even though it will not come to consensus.

Let's consider a common example. The student has committed a serious violation of the Code of Conduct. The teachers and other school personnel are all of the opinion that the student's disability did not cause the student's misconduct.  However, the parent disagrees.  The issue has been discussed long enough that it is clear that neither side is going to budge.

The first thing to keep in mind is that is it OK that ARD Committees will sometimes end the meeting in non-consensus.  In fact, it is expected.  This why we have rules that address the non-consensus meeting.  So don't be afraid of a disagreement.

However, the administrator should ask herself "the three questions" before steering the group toward a non-consensus closure. Those questions are:

1. Is this worth fighting over?

2. Is the school's position legally defensible?

3. Is the school staff united?

If the answer to all three questions is "yes" then it would be appropriate for the administrator who is leading the meeting to bring the meeting to closure.

In our Toolbox workshops we discuss this topic in more detail, and review practical scenarios in which Tool #9 would be useful.  We study the two "stay put" rules and figure out which one applies to a given situation, and what the implications of that are.

If you are interested in bringing the Toolbox to your district or Service Center, please contact me, or Haley Armitage ( at our law firm.