Toolbox Tuesday!! Can the A.P. serve a dual role?

The Toolbox is a full day training program designed to help campus administrators and special education staff serve students with disabilities safely and appropriately.  In the Toolbox Training we offer ten “tools” that the law authorizes, and we practice using them.  We talk quite a bit about the role of the ARD Committee and the process of making a manifestation determination.

One issue that comes up periodically involves the role of a campus administrator, usually an assistant principal, as the person who 1) investigates the incident; 2) provides due process to the student; 3) makes the determination that the student violated the Code of Conduct; and then 4) serves as the “administrative representative” at the ARDC meeting where the manifestation determination will be decided.  Is it OK to have one person do all of that?

It is. Of course if you have enough administrators to go around you can spread these responsibilities around. But there is no legal reason why a competent A.P. cannot do all of this.  This came up in a federal court case in Hawaii a few years ago.  The student was charged with setting off a bomb in the school bathroom, thus causing extensive damage. The vice principal investigated and found the student guilty of this offense, in part, based on the student’s confession.  The court held that the MDR team reviewed the records and had ample support for its conclusions.  The court also rejected the argument by the parent that the assistant principal should not have been involved in the manifestation determination.  Key Quotes:

The Court is also unpersuaded by Plaintiffs’ argument at the hearing that [the assistant principal] should not have led the manifestation determination meeting because he was the one who investigated the firework incident.  The Court agrees with Defendant that it made sense for [the assistant principal] to lead the meeting since he was the vice principal as well as the school official most familiar with the incident.

The case is Danny K. v. DOE State of Hawaii, 57 IDELR 185 (D.C.Ha. 2011).


 Tomorrow: It’s Halloween, right?