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Failure to conduct proper FBA and develop a BIP preclude school district from recommending more restrictive placement

Doe v. Regional School Unit No. 21, 60 IDELR 228 (D. Me. 2012):  A federal district court upheld an impartial hearing officer’s determination that a school district’s recommendation to place a student with ADHD, anxiety disorder, low average cognitive ability, global developmental delay, mixed expressive and receptive language disorder, phonological disorder, and fine and gross motor delays, in a more restrictive environment without first conducting a proper functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and developing an appropriate behavior intervention plan (BIP).

The school district believed the student, whose behavior significantly interfered with his learning as well as that of others, needed a more restrictive setting, but the student’s parent insisted on a mainstream setting.  To address the student’s behaviors, a special education teacher and school psychologist discussed a behavioral plan, but no formal FBA was conducted and the informal behavioral plan was never shared with the IEP team.  The hearing officer (IHO) deemed this improper, and ordered the school to conduct a full FBA by a board certified behavioral analyst and develop a BIP.  The IHO also envisioned that, after the BIP had been implemented enough to provide sufficient data, if the student failed to make adequate behavioral progress, only then could the school appropriately recommend a more restrictive setting.

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