Toolbox Tuesday: a major piece of legislation….

HB 785 sits on the Governor’s desk, and I expect it will be signed.  This is a significant new law that will have a direct impact on how you handle disciplinary actions with students in your special education program.  Here’s a summary of the bill’s four key provisions, along with some preliminary commentary.

BIPs: If a student’s IEP includes a BIP, it must be reviewed by the ARDC annually or more frequently as appropriate. The review must consider changes in circumstances that may impact the student’s behavior, as well as the safety of the student and others.  The circumstance to be considered would include changes of placement, an increase or persistence in disciplinary actions taken for similar behaviors, a pattern of unexcused absences, or an unauthorized or unsupervised departure from the school. 

Comment: federal law already requires a review of the IEP each year, but this bill itemizes specific “circumstances” that the ARDC needs to address. The ARDC needs to at least consider all of those circumstances, and the deliberations should reflect the discussion.

RESTRAINT:  The Commissioner will be adding rules about restraint that will require written notice to the parent of each incident of restraint.  A copy of the notice must be included in the student’s records. 

Comment: existing rules already require written notice to the parent, but this bill itemizes the contents of the notice, so we can expect an amendment to 19 T.A.C. 89.1053(e)(3).     

TIME-OUT:  For students who have a BIP, schools will be required to document “each use of time-out prompted by a behavior of the student specified in the student’s plan, including a description of the behavior that prompted the time-out.”  

Comment: unfortunately, we still don’t have a very useful definition of “time-out.”  This bill does not include a definition. Existing rules define time-out as “a behavior management technique in which to provide a student with an opportunity to regain self-control, the student is separated from other students for a limited period in a setting (A) that is not locked; and (B) from which the exit is not physically blocked by furniture, a closed door held shut from the outside, or another inanimate object.”  So that means that two minutes on the beanbag in the corner of the classroom is time-out?   This is what we’re making a lot of fuss over?

DISCIPLINARY CHANGES OF PLACEMENT:  If the school makes a disciplinary change of placement for a student with a disability, the school must 1) seek consent from the parent to conduct a FBA if one has never been done, or the existing FBA is more than one year old; 2) review any previous FBAs and/or BIPs; and 3) develop a BIP or revise the existing one, as necessary.  These things must take place within 10 school days after the change of placement.  

Comment: federal law already requires a manifestation determination within 10 school days. It also requires what this law requires, but only when the ARDC determines that the behavior was a manifestation. So this bill changes things and that change will be reflected in our firm’s Toolbox Training. 


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Tomorrow: Good news for school board members!