Our firm offers training on the legal requirements for serving students with disabilities because it is one of the most complicated areas of school law. There are federal laws and regulations, Chapter 37 and other state law provisions, local policy, and the case law that interprets all that. It’s a lot. So we have tried to simplify without being simplistic. The Toolbox offers a vocabulary and a framework built around ten “tools” that are available to school administrators.
I enjoy doing Toolbox training, but I also become increasingly aware of how “Old School” the Toolbox is. It’s built around the things that school administrators can do to address inappropriate behavior. I’m a lawyer, not a behavior expert, so all I can confidently tell you is what the law allows and what it forbids. So we talk a lot about DAEP, and suspension, and how ISS fits in. All well and good, but none of that really gets to the root of the problem.
The root of the problem is behavior that impedes the learning of the student or others. The law tells us that the ARDC is to ask itself every year, at the annual ARDC meeting if the student has behaviors that impede learning. If the answer is yes, the members of the committee are required to talk about how the behavior should be addressed. Behaviors that “impede learning” can range from sullen and isolated withdrawal to violent outbursts. Likewise, the ways to address such behaviors can run the gamut, limited only by your creativity. Well….and also limited by some legal restrictions.
But you do have a lot of flexibility in how inappropriate behavior is addressed. I think the research shows that doing the same thing over and over, when it does not produce good results, is kind of crazy.
So as a new year launches, just a reminder that the most important tool is Tool #1—the creation and implementation of a plan to address the student’s behavior through positive interventions, supports, and strategies. The kids have been through a lot these past 18 months—as have you. Let’s start the year with a focus on the things we can do FOR the students rather than the things the law allows us to do TO the students.
DAWG BONE: STILL THE #1 TOOL IN THE TOOLBOX: A BIP.
Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: heads up, school psychs!