Dear Colleague: Your Obligations for Behavior Supports under IDEA

The 16-page Dear Colleague letter from the US Department of Education on August 1, 2016, served as a reminder that “Under the IDEA, the primary vehicle for providing FAPE is through an appropriately developed individualized education program (IEP) that is based on the individual needs of the child. … In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, the IEP Team must consider — and, when necessary to provide FAPE, include in the IEP — the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies to address that behavior.”

The letter recognizes that disciplinary removal can be appropriate when used to protect the safety of students. However, it does not negate the obligation “to consider the implications of the child’s behavioral needs, and the effects of the use of suspensions (and other short-term removals) when ensuring the provision of FAPE.”

The impetus for this letter is two-fold: first, data suggests that disciplinary removal suggests that students with disabilities are not receiving the behavioral interventions and supports they need under their IEPs, and second, the high percentage of students with disabilities who have been subjected to disciplinary removal (10% in 2013-1014).

If your district is struggling to meet its obligations, PresenceLearning has a number of resources for you and your staff:

  1. Services for Schools. PresenceLearning offers live, online behavioral interventions and mental health services delivered by experienced, licensed mental health professionals. In addition, we also offer a full range of assessments.
  2. Free Live and On-Demand Webinars. Our award-winning webinar program brings the field’s best and brightest to your screen. This October, Dr. Kimberly Givens will describe sustainability strategies for multi-tiered systems of support in closing the achievement gap. Our previous speakers and topics have included Dr. Ross Greene on the Collaborative and Proactive Solutions model, Dr. Joe Ryan on creating a culture for data-driven behavioral interventions, Dr. Dan Crimmins and Dr. Michael Gamel-McCormick on positive behavior strategies, and many more.
  3. eBooks and White Papers. Check out our resource library for an eBook on tackling behavior challenges with behavioral interventions and mental health services, a white paper by Dr. Frances Stetson on inclusion and culturally responsive classrooms, and a resource packet from Dr. Ross Greene one what works and what doesn’t with students who have behavior challenges.