Addressing Problem Behavior in the IEP Process
The IDEA requires that if a student with disabilities exhibits problem behaviors that impede his or her learning or the learning of others, then the student’s IEP team shall consider “strategies, including positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address that behavior” (IDEA, 20 U.S.C. § 1414 (d)(3)(B)(i)). Comments to the federal regulations indicate that if a student has a history of problem behavior, or if such behaviors can be readily anticipated, then the student’s IEP must address that behavior (IDEA Regulations, 34 C.F.R. § 300 Appendix A question 39). This requirement applies to all students in special education, regardless of their disability category.
Neither the IDEA nor the regulations indicate what behaviors should be addressed in the IEP. The lack of specificity is consistent with the IDEA’s philosophy of allowing IEP teams to make individualized decisions for each student (Gorn, 1999). It is up to the IEP team, therefore, to determine which behaviors are significant enough to require interventions formally written into the IEP. Drasgow, Yell, Bradley, and Shriner (1999) inferred from previous hearings and court cases that these problem behaviors may include (a) disruptive behaviors that distract teachers from teaching and students from learning, (b) noncompliance, (c) verbal and physical abuse, (d) property destruction, and (e) aggression toward students or staff.
These problem behaviors should be addressed in the following manner. First, when a student exhibits problem behavior, the IEP team must determine if the behavior impedes his or her learning or other students’ learning. Second, if the team decides that the problem behavior does interfere with the student’s learning, they must conduct an assessment of the behavior. Third, the IEP team must develop a plan based on the information gained from the assessment to reduce problem behaviors and increase socially acceptable behaviors.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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