Disabled children participate in an IEP, Individualized Education Program. When the child has behavioral issues that require discipline such as suspension or expulsion, the school is required to hold a meeting with the parents and members of the IEP team. This meeting is called a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR). Properly preparing for the MDR meeting is extremely important. Those involved must take the steps necessary to ensure that their actions are appropriate and that there is adequate documentation to accurately assess the student’s situation.
When a child’s behavior requires action, the school must immediately notify the parents. The MDR must be held within 10 days of the occurrence of misbehavior. The parents require proper notification and must be aware of the serious nature and potential consequences of the situation. The child’s IEP team must convene to review the case and make determine whether the student’s behavior at issue is a manifestation of his or her disability.
The IEP team must meet to assess the behavioral problem and decide how to proceed. The team must be able to answer two very important questions:
- Was the behavior a result of, or caused by, the child’s disability?
- Was the conduct a result of improper implementation of the IEP?
If the team agrees that either of these is the case, the school may not proceed with the suspension or expulsion proceedings. When the child’s disability caused the conduct, the child cannot be punished for his or her behavior. If the child’s conduct was a result of a poorly executed IEP, the school must re-evaluate the plan, during which time no action should be taken to expel the child.
Attending the Meeting
The administrator in charge must be in attendance at the meeting. Other attendees should include all members of the IEP team, and any other professionals required for proper evaluation. The parents may bring their own group of professionals who will provide their own evaluation of the child.
If the meeting outcome is not what the parents expected, they may file a request for a due process hearing. Schools must be prepared to provide the necessary documentation and evaluations that prove that their decision is a sound one. There are many legal concerns regarding the discipline of a disabled child. It is essential that schools follow the law throughout the procedure and ensure that the child’s rights are not violated. It is helpful to discuss the case with a qualified education law attorney before proceeding.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Preparing for the MDR Meeting, or other Education Law matters, please feel free to contact Erin H. Walz at 480.461.5379, log on to www.udallshumway.com or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.