Aug 022013

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Q: Our school system says our child doesn’t qualify for special services because they think he has a behavior problem, not a learning disability. I think it’s a learning issue. What do I do?


Under IDEA, if a child has a “behavior” problem that affects learning, he may be identified as emotionally or behaviorally disturbed (EBD). That is a special education category. Your child may need a Behavior Intervention Plan in order to function in the general classroom.

Having behaviors alone may not be enough to put an IEP into place though. It depends upon whether the behaviors affect your child’s learning or are caused by a learning disability.

In either case, your school must evaluate to determine if your child’s behaviors are caused by a disability. The behaviors cannot just be dismissed. If your school have not evaluated your child, no one will know whether your child’s behaviors are based upon a disability or not.

How to Determine if a Behavior Intervention Plan is Needed

If you suspect a learning disability, you can request a comprehensive evaluation for your child. All you have to do is put your request in writing to your school. If your child has not had a comprehensive evaluation, it would be beneficial for you to request one. If you request an evaluation in writing, the school system must evaluate within 60 days.

Your school MUST provide a comprehensive evaluation to insure your child does NOT have a learning disability. They must also determine if behaviors are caused by a disability. If so, they should also create a positive Behavior Intervention Plan.

*If* your child’s school refuses to evaluate your child, You can also tell your school you will pursue a private evaluation at their expense. They are required to evaluate under IDEA -Federal Law and to consider a Behavior Intervention Plan if your child’s behaviors are caused by a disability.

If you do not agree with their evaluation, you can also request a private evaluation at the school’s expense. Before pursuing an evaluation paid for by the school, I would highly recommend becoming knowledgeable about your child’s rights. Some school systems will walk all over parents who don’t KNOW their child’s rights, so you’d be wise to be armed with knowledge of what the schools are supposed to do.

Also, You can have your child privately tested if you’d like. If you have a private evaluation, you can take your private report to your child’s school. They must “consider” the report, but depending upon your school system, that consideration may be worthless.

Our school said to us, “We have to consider it. We don’t have to accept it. SO there, we considered it,” as they tossed it to the side with barely even a glance. The thing was, our private evaluation report was 37 pages, 10 times BETTER, and more robust than their skimpy two page evaluation report. They took pleasure in scoffing at us!! I pray your school system is more interested in doing what is best for your child. 😉

When your child has testing, it may be found that your child has a learning disability. If he does, then it would be beneficial for your child to also have a Functional Behavior Assessment. Then you can have them create a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).Behavior Intervention Plan

Your school can create a Behavior Intervention Plan with POSITIVE supports and instructions, then put that plan into place. A Behavior Intervention plan gives adults instructions about how to handle your child’s behaviors in a positive manner to minimize behavior problems.

PLEASE check out “Wrightslaw: Special Education Law” and “From Emotions to Advocacy” to learn more about your child’s rights and how to advocate for his needs.

Best Wishes

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