As a general rule, special education students have to be kept in their regular placement as determined in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, at times special education students will misbehave and may be disciplined by removal from that regular placement. In fact, research shows that special education students generally tend to get disciplined more often than their general education peers, and also that the discipline for them may often be longer and more severe. Luckily, however, the law does offer protections for special education students, but parents have to use the law properly.
After a special education child has been removed from their regular education setting for more than 10 days during any school year, the school has to conduct a functional behavior assessment (FBA), as required by the 34 CFR 300.530 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The primary purpose of an FBA is to determine why the special education student is behaving disruptively. Special education students – like anyone else – don’t simply decide to act out for no reason at all, but rather because their behavior is serving some function or purpose. The purpose of the FBA is to determine what function and/or purpose is being served.
Once the FBA has been completed, it should be used as a guide in forming a behavior intervention plan (BIP) that will be meant to address the student’s disruptive behaviors and give both the student and the school tools necessary to prevent such behaviors. This is very important to understand: the FBA and BIP are not exclusive documents, but rather the FBA must be used as the foundational starting point for developing the BIP.