Toolbox Tuesday!! What happens if the parent disagrees with the manifestation determination?

The Toolbox is a full day training program focusing on the disciplinary options with students with disabilities. One of the tools that we discuss in the Toolbox is Tool #6—a Disciplinary Change of Placement. This tool is used when the student has committed a serious violation of your code of conduct—serious enough that a long term DAEP assignment is called for.

After the administrator has provided due process and determined that the student has committed the offense, the ARD Committee should meet. One of its tasks is to conduct the “manifestation determination review” (MDR). This is a formal process to make sure that we are not punishing the student for having a disability. The MDR is designed to make sure that students are held accountable under the code of conduct only when they should be. If the student’s behavior was the direct result of the student’s disability, the district should address it in some other way—not with a punitive assignment to a disciplinary program.

But what if the school and the parent do not come to consensus on this? Suppose that the members of the ARDC who work for the school district are all of the opinion that the behavior is not a manifestation of disability, but the parent disagrees with that. There are three things you should know about that.

First, it is not necessary to recess the meeting. Texas regulations call for the ARDC to recess and reconvene later when there is a lack of consensus at the meeting. But there is an exception to this when the student has committed an expellable or DAEP offense. So you can bring the meeting to closure without a recess.

Second, the parent can request a special education due process hearing to challenge the ARDC’s decision. It would be wise for you to go over the Procedural Safeguards document with the parent to point out how this works. Since this is a disciplinary issue, the hearing is “expedited.”

Third, the disciplinary “stay put” rule applies in a case like this, rather than the traditional stay put rule. This means that the student “stays put” not in the classroom called for in the student’s IEP, but rather, in an “interim alternative educational setting” designated by the ARDC. In practical terms, this usually means the DAEP.

This is just one of the ten “tools” we review in the Toolbox workshop. If you think this training might be helpful to your staff, let me know!


Tomorrow: How I learned that teachers can be “miracle workers.”