What's the FBA

(in my Mary J voice) or
You know me?

I crack myself up with that title.  Anywho, in my last blog post, I discussed how to approach behavior differently. I even admitted that I was in the “they just need discipline crew of family and friends.”

Let me be the first to tell you discipline alone doesn’t work.

Because of that, I understand one of the most frustrating parts of sending your child to school is when they keep sending him/her back home because of what is perceived as poor or bad behavior. Or when you force the school to manage the situation, your child is sent out of the classroom to sit in the office. All the while, you are constantly being called by the school to do something, somehow; speaking to your child on the phone, picking your child up from school, coming into the school to mediate, etc. It’s all too much, overwhelming.

Every parent/caregiver wants their child to be happy at school. Knowing your child has behavioral concerns daily is certainly not a comfortable place for either the child or parent/caregiver. We don’t want our children to struggle, and at the same time, defensiveness kicks in when your child is the only one always getting in trouble. We don’t want to feel that our child is under attack. AND most importantly, every parent wants to know that their child is in a school where they are understood and wanted. I know what you are experiencing, not only because I have advised countless parents in this exact situation. I was once in that situation.

Here is what I want you to understand if your child experiences regular conduct issues in school…

The school is obligated to provide support to your child through their behavioral difficulties, and this help isn’t a matter of “favor”; it’s a mandate by section 504 and IDEA 2004.

The school’s primary role when behavior problems form a pattern is to initiate proactive strategies that come in the form of a Positive Behavior Intervention Plan (PBIP) based on a comprehensive Functional Behavioral Assessment. A Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is an evaluation tool used to determine the function(why) or reason for a student’s problem behavior(s). We need to understand the reason(why) the behavior is happening to create an appropriate plan of action, which would come in the form of teaching the child replacement behaviors that will get them what they are seeking. Think of it like this… ALL BEHAVIOR IS COMMUNICATION

Before a student reaches 10 days of suspension, a Manifestation Hearing must occur to determine if the behavior resulted from a student’s disability (if applicable) or unrelated. Suppose the behavior resulted from the student’s disability (yes, ADHD is considered a disability). In that case, the school must take proactive measures to modify behavior and provide support where there is a need.

Your child, disabled or nondisabled, should NOT be removed from their educational setting more than ten days in a school year without proactive measures in place- including evaluating the behavior from a scientific perspective (FBA), creating a scientific behavior intervention plan, and considering if further services/related services are needed.

Both federal, state, and district policies protect children experiencing behavioral difficulties in school, in many cases even when the student is not an official student with a disability. If the school has suspicion of a disability and action wasn’t taken to evaluate and consider the development of an IEP. Your child qualifies for the same procedures and protections that students with a 504 Plan or an IEP have as a student with a disability. Contrary to what you may believe, this documented protection changes how the school looks at your child.

Whether a child is a student with a disability already, in the process of becoming eligible for an IEP or 504 Plan, or a general education student… if there is a pattern of misbehavior, regular classroom removals (in or out of school- official or unofficial), it is vital that you seek guidance to determine if the correct procedures are implemented to ensure your student gets the help that they need with the social and emotional challenges they are facing.

When a child is “failing” or regressing academically and/or behaviorally, general education interventions should go into effect, and response to intervention data must be collected. Response to Intervention or MTSS is a three-tiered system of research-based instruction with regular data collection to determine if a student responds positively to interventions and thus might not need specialized instruction but rather continued interventions to close gaps. In the case of behavior, data is collected while implementing a research-based Behavior Intervention Plan with daily data collection to measure the frequency of target behaviors. While general education interventions are going on (12-16 week process), the child find team should determine if additional evaluations beyond the FBA are required to conduct a complete evaluation of the student. During this period, the child would already be under the legal protection of students with disabilities, given that suspicion of a disability is evident as the process has been initiated. Suspicion of a disability can also come from the parent alerting the school of a concern or a diagnosis.

Remember this, when you make the school aware of your concerns, do so via email, conversations get forgotten, but email creates a paper trail. Because what is the first rule of IEP? If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.
Remember, a Functional Assessment of Behavior is considered an evaluation measure, and just like any other evaluation, for the evaluation to take place, the parent/caregiver must sign consent to evaluate. When signing consent, make sure you reiterate all of the concerns you have or heard from the teachers and outside professionals at the beginning and that you have—that way, the school can evaluate for ALL areas of concern.

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Nickelson Project; Moving families from Chaos to Collaboration 

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