The evaluation requirements for FBAs are not precise, though best practices should be used. That being the case, a few guidelines are useful:
1. Rely heavily on the personnel resources in the school building and at the district level. Special education students whose behavior is constantly disruptive can be immensely difficult to deal with, and it is hard to determine exactly why they’re acting in such a disruptive fashion so often. Most schools – and certainly most districts – have specialists they can rely on in the form of social workers and psychiatrists. It is critical to involve them in the process. Additionally, don’t be afraid to consult with others who have worked with your child before. There is nothing wrong, for example, with a high school teacher contacting the student’s middle school to see if anything worked there.
2. Be proactive early. What often happens with disruptive special education students is that they’ll get off to a bad start, they’ll be exposed to a disciplinary process and then they’ll lash out against that process. The more that heavy discipline is applied, the worse the behavior will be, thereby necessitating more discipline. This becomes a vicious cycle. This is not to say that there is no room for traditional discipline, but more proactive approaches should be used early on. Someone should develop a relationship with your son and daughter and make some effort to understand why the disruptive behaviors are taking place. It is critical in general for students to develop a trusting relationship with at least one adult as early as possible. That student is then more likely to be responsive to suggestions to alter their behavior.
3. Keep emotions out of it, and rely on information instead. It is very easy for an FBA to become a document that indicates that the adults in the building have become fed up with a kid. Although educators are human and this is perfectly understandable, it’s also not productive. The goal of the FBA should be to understand why a kid is acting the way he or she is, rather than to simply identify the student as a troublemaker who is beyond help. As part of that understanding, start looking at information like, for example, times of the day the kid is likely to act out, classes in which the disruptive behaviors are taking place, triggering events and what else may be going on in the kid’s life.
4. Make sure to be involved as a parent. Parents often will have a good understanding of the events that tend to escalate their children. You can provide assistance in developing the FBA.