Toolbox Tuesday: When to do an FBA?

On Tuesdays around here we like to talk about the Toolbox—an all day training program designed to help schools serve all students appropriately and safely. The Toolbox features ten “tools” that school administrators and ARD Committees can use to serve the students who present challenging behaviors.

The student who later became the plaintiff in a case from Alamo Heights ISD does not sound like one of those students.  In recounting the student’s history in the district, the judge never mentions a single day of suspension, DAEP placement or the use of physical restraint. The student was taking mostly AP classes while participating in band and working toward Eagle Scout status. He graduated on time and, at the time of the court decision, was attending college.

Nevertheless, the parent argued that the school violated the law by failing to conduct all necessary evaluations. The parent argued that there should have been an FBA (Functional Behavioral Assessment).  The court made short work of that argument.  IDEA only requires an FBA when a child has been removed from the current placement for more than 10 days due to disciplinary infractions.  Even then, the law calls for an FBA “as appropriate.”  In this case, the student was not removed for disciplinary reasons at all, much less for more than 10 days. So no FBA was required.

As noted by the court, ARD Committees are required to at least consider behavioral strategies whenever the student engages in behavior that “impedes the learning of the student or others.”  But that was not the case here.

In the Toolbox training we emphasize that the most important of the ten tools is the first one: the development of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). That’s the only one of the ten tools that is designed to improve the student’s behavior.  A good BIP has to be supported by accurate, comprehensive and current evaluation data. That’s where an FBA comes in.

If you are interested in the Toolbox, let me know—I’d be happy to come to your district or ESC to provide this training.

The case discussed today is A.L. v. Alamo Heights ISD, decided by the federal court for the Western District of Texas on October 12, 2018. We found it at 2018 WL 4955220.


 Tomorrow: a missed deadline.