Behavior Impedes Learning – The Legal Side

In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address the behavior. The focus of behavioral interventions and supports in the IEP is prevention of the behavior, not just provision for consequences subsequent to the behavior. This means that the team will need to attempt to identify the function of the behavior, usually through a functional behavioral assessment, and develop strategies to prevent the behavior from occurring again in the future.

The positive behavioral interventions and supports could be implemented through the IEP annual goals, program modifications, or a behavioral intervention plan (BIP). If a behavioral intervention plan is developed by the IEP team, it becomes part of the IEP and any changes to it would require a meeting of the IEP team to consider the proposed changes to the plan. If the BIP is developed by a building based problem solving team or other group of individuals other than the IEP team it does not have to be included in the IEP.

Special education laws and regulations place a strong emphasis on supports and interventions, including positive behavior interventions and supports that are scientifically research-based. Scientifically based research means that the interventions or supports must be accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through a comparably rigorous, objective, and scientific review. (Federal Register, August 14, 2006, p. 46683) These strategies are designed to foster increased participation of children with exceptionalities in general education environments or other less restrictive environments, not to serve as a basis for placing children with exceptionalities in more restrictive settings. No child should be denied access to special education services and the opportunity to progress in the general education curriculum. (See Appendix A, Figure 13-7, FBA)

“Students who receive special education as a result of behavior problems must have individualized education programs that include behavior goals, objectives, and intervention plans. While current laws driving special education do not require specific procedures and plans for these students, it is recommended that their IEPs be based on functional behavioral assessments and include proactive positive behavioral interventions and supports.? ~ Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (OSEP)

Functional Behavioral Assessment A process for gathering broad and specific information about a student’s behavior in order to identify the function or purpose that the behavior serves. The information gathered in this process will be utilized to develop interventions to change behaviors of concern and to teach new behavior patterns. This is the first step in designing a behavior support plan incorporating positive behavioral interventions

This process involves information gathering through record reviews, interviews, and observations and the development of summary statements that describe the patterns identified. According to O’Neill and colleagues (1997), primary outcomes of the functional assessment process include:

  • A clear description of the problem behaviors
  • Events, times, and situations that predict when behaviors will and will not occur (i.e., setting events)
  • Consequences that maintain the problem behaviors (i.e., functions)
  • Summary statements or hypotheses
  • Direct observation data to support the hypotheses

The following guidelines are intended to provide educational teams, including families, educators, students, and administrators, with a framework for conducting a functional behavioral assessment and developing a behavior support plan as it relates to the following statutes in IDEA

The team must explore the need for strategies and support systems to address any behavior that may impede the learning of the child with the disability or the learning of his or her peers;

In response to disciplinary actions by school personnel, when a student is facing a mandatory expulsion, the IEP team must meet to formulate a functional behavioral assessment plan to collect data for developing a behavioral intervention plan. If a behavioral intervention plan already exists, the team must review and revise it (as necessary), to ensure that it addresses the behavior upon which disciplinary action is predicated; and

Positive Behavioral Support Positive behavior support is a collaborative, assessment-based process to develop effective, individualized interventions for individuals with challenging behavior. Support plans focus on proactive and educative approaches.

Positive behavior support (PBS) involves the assessment and re-engineering of environments so people with problem behaviors experience reductions in their problem behaviors and increase social, personal, and professional quality in their lives.

“Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) is an empirically validated, function-based approach to eliminate challenging behaviors and replace them with prosocial skills. Use of PBS decreases the need for more intrusive or aversive interventions (i.e., punishment or suspension) and can lead to both systemic as well as individualized change.” ~ NASP Resources

National Resources

Association for Positive Behavior Support

Behavior Assessment, Plans, and Positive Supports

Behavior Expertise

Behavior at Home

Behavior at  School

Behavior Intervention for Young Children with Autism

Behavior Management Getting to the Bottom of Social Skills Deficits

Behavior Modification in the Classroom

Behavior Management and School-Related Behavior Problems

The Center for Effective Collaboration & Practice: briefs on research-based intervention practices & programs for children with behavioral problems written for families

Children’s Mental Health Disorder Fact Sheet for the Classroom

Common Behavior Problems at School: A Natural Opportunity for Social and Emotional Learning

Dodging the Power-Struggle Trap: Ideas for Teachers

Effective Strategies to Address Disruptive Behaviors

Functional Behavioral Assessments: What, Why, When, Where, and Who?

Facilitating Individualized Interventions to Address Challenging Behavior Toolkit

How to Handle Meltdowns

  1. A Crash Course in Meltdown Management
  2. Sensory Integration Tools for Meltdown Management
  3. How to manage and prevent a panic attack

How do parents let them know the rules are important, and still use discretion when it comes to discipline?

IEPs for Students with Behavior Problems

Ideas for Low-Cost/No Cost Incentives

Identifying the Reasons for Problem Behavior and Developing a Behavior Plan

Medication That Affects Behavior

OSEP Technical Assistance Center On Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports

Paraeducator Training Project: Supporting Students with Challenging Behaviors

Positive Behavior Support and Functional Assessment

Practical Functional Behavioral Assessment Training Manual for School-Based Personnel

Strategies to Deal with Aggressive Children: Information for Educators

Supporting An Individual With Challenging Behaviors

Teaching Young Children Self-Control Skills

Temper Tantrums: Guidelines for Parents and Teachers

You Can Handle Them All

What is a Behavior Intervention Plan?

Write Your Own Behavior Plan

Child and his companion get ready to run.

The contents of this Families Together, Inc.'s website were developed under grants from the US Department of Education (#H328M150027) and the Department of Health and Human Services (H84MC09487). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Departments of Education or Health and Human Services, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government Project Officers, Kristen Rhoads or LaQuanta Smalley.