It’s Toolbox Tuesday! Why is it a bad idea to put “suspension” or “ISS” in a student’s BIP?

We like to celebrate the Toolbox around here on Tuesdays. The Toolbox is an all day training program, outlining 10 “tools” available to school administrators when dealing with disruptive behavior from students with disabilities.

Tool #1—a.k.a. “The Most Important Tool”—is a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).  Schools have a lot of discretion as to how to write a BIP.  If you want to put things like ISS and out-of-school suspension in a student’s BIP there is no law to stop you.  So take this as just one Dawg’s opinion. But we think it’s a bad idea to do this. Why? Let’s enumerate.

First, a BIP is supposed to be about POSITIVE behavioral interventions, strategies and supports.  Kicking the kid out of the classroom for a while is not “positive.”  It’s a management tool. There are times when it may be necessary…but it’s still not “positive.”

Second, putting these options into a BIP is inviting an argument with the parent that you don’t need to have.  Remember that the BIP is developed by the ARD Committee. The parent, as a member of the ARDC, may object to the inclusion of these options. What then?  You could say, “Well, sir, we’re going to do it anyway. We just thought we’d ask for your permission.”

Third, putting these options into a BIP is redundant. Your Code of Conduct already includes these short term disciplinary consequences as an option.

Some might point out that it’s important for the parent to understand that ISS and suspensions are possible.  Agreed.  It’s important to be very clear with parents about this point.  But the document that makes that clear is the Code of Conduct—not an individual student’s BIP.  So reference to ISS and suspension should be in the Code of Conduct—not a BIP. What you list in a BIP are the positive behavioral interventions that you think will reduce the likelihood that you will have to enforce the Code of Conduct.

In other words, make sure the parents understand that the student with a BIP remains subject to the Code of Conduct. The BIP is intended to help the student comply with the Code of Conduct.