Toolbox Tuesday! Remember the BIP!!

The Toolbox Training is a full day program devoted to the legal issues surrounding the discipline of students with disabilities.  We review ten “tools” that are available to school personnel to accomplish two goals: first, to serve every student appropriately; second, to maintain a safe and healthy climate on your campus.  In the Toolbox, I repeatedly emphasize that Tool #1 is your most important tool. Tool #1 is a BIP—a Behavior Improvement Plan.

Spoiler alert: one of the hypotheticals we work on in the Toolbox is a fairly straightforward disciplinary situation. A student is caught in the act of selling drugs on campus to another student. What do you do? What “tools” do you use?  I find the participants are quick to identify several tools that are available.  This is a crime, so we use Tool #10—call the cops.  It’s a “special circumstances” case, so we use Tool #5—removal for up to 45 school days.  Some districts might also use Tool #6—a disciplinary removal for an even longer period of time, if the behavior is not a manifestation of disability.

Every once in awhile someone brings up Tool #1—this drug dealing kid needs a BIP!  Indeed, he does.  Our ARD paperwork routinely asks the Committee this question: does the student have behaviors that impede the learning of the student or others?  We ask that question at every annual ARD meeting, but I suggest that we ask it at other times as well. Like when we discover that a student is dealing drugs at school.

Punishment for such behavior is what Chapter 37 calls for, and that’s perfectly legal. But will it improve the student’s behavior? Is there any data to support the idea that the student will learn something from that?  I’m skeptical.  So in the Toolbox we emphasize that the larger goal is to teach the student appropriate behaviors.

This is a good thing to keep in mind as we start a new school year. And if you are interested in Toolbox Training, let me hear from you.


 Tomorrow: Sitting down during the Pledge….