Did you know that moving a student with challenging behaviors from in person to virtual learning could be considered a change in placement?


Definitions you may want to know:

Individuals Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) says that children who receive special education should learn in the least restrictive environment. This means they should spend as much time as possible with peers who do not receive special education.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) in IDEA says that any placement outside the general education classroom must be discussed with the IEP team about  the child’s best interest and individual disability-related needs

Change in Placement is where a student is placed in a different environment such as going from general education to a special education classroom.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is a process schools use to understand the motivation behind the behavior.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is a written plan that teaches and rewards good behavior. The BIP plan has three parts: lists the problem, describes why it is happening, and it puts in place strategies or supports to help.

Manifestation determination Review (MDR) is a review by the IEP team about the student’s behavior and whether the behavior is due to the student’s disability or not.


When considering change of placement for students with disabilities due to behavior needs, districts should ensure the following steps are followed:

  1. If a school decides that a student needs a change in placement due to behavior, the school must also provide you with a notice about the decision on the date that the change of placement was made and provide the procedure safeguards.
  2. If a student is removed from the situation 10 days in a row or shows a pattern of removal due to a behavior, a MDR must occur to  discuss the behavior needs of the student and determine if the behavior is due to their disability or not.
  3. If the MDR has decided that the behavior was DUE to the disability:
  • A discussion about Functional Behavior Plan (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) with the student’s placement in mind should occur.
  • If a school has already done a FBA, a school is not required to do another one.
  • If a school has not put a BIP into place before the MDR, the school must do.
  • If a school has already put a BIP in place, the IEP team must review the BIP and discuss other strategies that can help the student’s behavior.
  • Unless the school and you both agree that the change of placement is best for the student and it is in the BIP, the student must be returned back to the original placement.

     4. If the MDR has decided that the behavior WAS NOT due to the disability

      • The school must continue to provide services in the placement.
      • The IEP team may decide to conduct a FBA and change the BIP, however, this is not required

     5. Weapons, Drugs, or other serious bodily injuries

      • If the student’s behavior is related to the use of weapons, drugs or bodily injury of a person, then they can be placed in an alternative setting for up to 45 school days.
      • While in this placement they will still receive any accommodations and modifications currently on their IEP.
      • During the alternative stay a FBA, BIP and other modifications are required to be completed to keep the behavior from happening again.


    Questions to ask yourself

    • Was the behavior due to the student’s disability?
    • What other behavior plans have been used to stop the behavior?
    • Are these modifications currently on their IEP?
    • Were these modifications used in the situation that caused the MDR hearing?
    • When was the last FBA and BIP? For example, was it developed in elementary school and now they are in middle school so situations are different?

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