Toolbox Tuesday!! About BIPs….

In the Toolbox training program that our firm provides we recommend leaving the negative, punitive stuff out of a student’s BIP.  By the “negative, punitive stuff” I mean the provisions in your Code of Conduct that describe various consequences for bad behavior.  This includes things like suspension, ISS, denial of privileges and that sort of thing.  I frequently get questions about this recommendation, so let me offer a brief FAQ.

What’s wrong with the “negative, punitive stuff”?  Nothing. We just think that it ought to be kept where it belongs, which is in your Code of Conduct.

Is that required by law?  No.  It’s just a recommendation.  You have a lot of leeway in how you write a BIP and what you include. 

Why do you make that recommendation?  The law does not define the content of a BIP, but it describes it by using words like “positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies.”  The negative consequences that are spelled out in your Code of Conduct do not match that description.  They are, as noted above, negative and punitive.  Think of it this way: the Code of Conduct is the “bad cop” and the BIP is the “good cop.”  They each serve a purpose, but they are different.  We also think that too many people think of a BIP as a student’s personalized Code of Conduct.  The more you clutter up the BIP with provisions from the Code of Conduct, including limitations and exceptions, the more you add to that perception.  No one has a personalized Code of Conduct. The Code applies to all students.

Can our administrators apply the Code of Conduct to a student with a disability if the BIP does not say so?  Yes.  However, there are provisions in the Code that require ARD Committee action, rather than the decision of an administrator.  In Toolbox terms, administrators cannot use Tool #6 (Disciplinary  Change of Placement) without holding an ARD meeting, but they can use Tools #7, #8 and #10—all of those are either short term actions, or involve bringing in law enforcement. Those actions are already authorized by your Code of Conduct. 

But we want to be sure that parents understand that the Code still applies.  So tell them.  Hand them another copy of the Code.  In the Toolbox Training we offer some specific language to include in some of your forms to accomplish this.  The message is that the Code still applies. The BIP describes the services the school will provide to help the student comply with the Code.