Toolbox Tuesday!! FBAs and BIPs…

Welcome back, Loyal Daily Dawg Readers! I hope you had a restful break full of family, fun, and festivity. Or maybe just rest.  Either way, it’s a brand new year and we have things to talk about.

We open this year’s Daily Dawg on a Tuesday, so that means it’s Toolbox Tuesday. We are continuing with our series of reviews of the Q and A from the Department of Education about student discipline. This week we look at Section G: IDEA’s  Requirements for FBAs and BIPs.

Tool #1 in the Toolbox is the development and implementation of a BIP.  We emphasize that Tool #1 is the first tool in the Toolbox for a reason. It’s the most important tool. If it works, you won’t need to use any of the other tools. That’s because a BIP is never about what the school might do TO a student. It’s about what a school can do FOR a student.

Your Code of Conduct spells out the things that the school might do TO a student. Negative consequences, or at least the fear of them, sometimes produce positive results.  I stay within striking distance of the posted speed limit not because I want to, but for fear of negative consequences.  I pay my taxes on time. I do this because it’s my civic duty, but I also fear the negative consequences of not doing so.

The negative consequences hanging over the heads of students in your schools often produce positive results. They don’t want to get in trouble. They don’t want to be suspended from the basketball team. They don’t want to have the A.P. call the parents to report some incident.  However, this doesn’t work as well as it used to. As my friend Kevin Curtis taught me “traditional discipline works for traditional kids from traditional families with traditional values.”  We have a shrinking percentage of students who fit that profile.

BIPs are not defined in the law but they are described with words like “positive behavioral interventions, supports, and strategies.”  The hope is that the school can provide instruction, motivation, and techniques designed to teach a student to cultivate more positive behavior. The idea is to prevent recurrence of inappropriate behaviors. 

The DOE’s Q and A on this topic is short and does not tell us a lot.  IDEA requires an FBA and BIP when a student’s placement is changed due to behavior that is a manifestation of disability.  If the school removes a student due to “special circumstances” (Tool #5), IDEA calls for an FBA and BIP “as appropriate.”  And when would it not be appropriate?  If a student has drugs or a weapon at school, or inflicts “serious bodily injury” on someone, wouldn’t we want to do something to prevent a recurrence of that kind of behavior?

The Q and A dances around the question of who is qualified to conduct an FBA because IDEA does not address that issue. Thus we are only told that it should be done by “trained and knowledgeable personnel.” 

You have a lot of discretion in the crafting of BIPs and the conduct of FBAs.  The law does not micromanage this process. In the Toolbox we talk about the things that we think should not go into a BIP: short term negative consequences (Tools #7 and #8), bringing in law enforcement (Tool #10) and physical restraint.  All of these things are already authorized by the law, and none of them are “positive behavioral interventions, supports or strategies.” So leave them where they belong—in the law, the policy and the Code of Conduct.

With BIPs, be creative, innovative, and specific to the student you are dealing with.


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Tomorrow: Moms for Liberty