It’s Toolbox Tuesday!! What do we need to know about Tool #9?

The Toolbox is an all-day training program focusing on the legal requirements when dealing with seriously disruptive and/or violent students with disabilities.   In a nutshell, the law requires school officials to do two things at the same time: serve each student appropriately, and in the LRE; and maintain safety and an orderly campus.

One of the tools is not really about student discipline—it’s about leadership.  Specifically, Tool #9 is about leadership at the non-consensus ARD meeting.

Many of the tools in the Toolbox involve a possible change in placement for a student.  That means an ARD meeting is needed.  Sometimes that change of placement is a disciplinary removal. Sometimes it is an educational change of placement. But regardless of the motivation, a change of placement must be approved by the ARD Committee and that means there is the possibility of disagreement with the parent.  That’s when leadership by the school administrator is essential.

One thing to keep in mind about ARD meetings: it’s the school’s meeting.  It is not the child’s meeting and not the parent’s meeting.  The meeting is about the child, and the parent’s participation must be meaningful.  But the meeting is initiated, conducted and staffed by the school district.  Moreover, it’s the school that has the legal responsibility for making sure that ARD meetings take place on time and with the right people.

So it’s your party. That means that the school bears primary responsibility for the quality of the meeting. The ARD meeting has a lot of legal implications, but it is not primarily a legal event. It’s a communication opportunity.  And every ARD meeting sends a message to the parent, and to the school staff. The way the meeting is conducted sends a message about the school’s professionalism and its caring for the child.

So we think administrative leadership is essential, especially in the so-called “Hard ARD.”  The administrator should serve as the representative of the local educational agency, and as such, should be in charge at the meeting. That does not mean that the administrator controls the outcome of the meeting. It means that the administrator controls the process.

That’s just one of the tools we talk about in the Toolbox training. If you are interested in me bringing the Toolbox to your school or ESC, just let me know.  Email at


 File this one under: SPECIAL EDUCATION

Tomorrow: we summarize SB 7—one of the most important bills adopted by this year’s legislature.