- Staying Within Law: Special Education Teachers and IDEA - September 1, 2020
- Teaching With Minecraft EDU - April 3, 2019
- Self-Care Is Priority One for This Teacher - February 13, 2019
- Preparing Students For Teacher Absences - February 12, 2019
- Respect in the Classroom: Earned, Not Expected - February 11, 2019
- Dissing the Family Crazies: A Christmas Story - January 6, 2019
- Band-Aiding The Mental Health of Our Children - November 23, 2018
- We Must Love Them - November 5, 2018
- Take One For the Team: The Need for Self-Care - August 19, 2018
- The New Teacher Smell - August 19, 2018
I recently had a crash course in what is called ‘Manifestation Determination’ or ‘Manifestation Meetings’. I had never heard of these until this week.
Now mind you, I am by no means a special education teacher, nor do I claim to know much about all of the forms and paperwork that these saints endure. I do believe that every child can learn and should have the opportunity to do so.
Having said that, I was a bit concerned about these so-called ‘Manifestation Meetings’ which are defined by IDEA as “a test employed when a student who receives special education services is considered for suspension, expulsion or any alternative placement due to some behavioral concern. It is a process where the behavior of a student who receives special education is considered to determine if the actions that resulted in the consideration of some disciplinary action against the student were manifestations of the student's disability.
All relevant information regarding the student including their evaluation, diagnostic results, observations of the student, their Individualized Education Program and other special education services are analyzed in this process. The appropriateness of the educational program that the student was undergoing will also be reviewed to analyze and determine whether the behavior in question was a result or manifestation of the student's disability.
The Local Education Agency administration determines whether a particular student needs disciplining. The Individualized Education Program team makes the programming decisions for the disabled students who face disciplinary actions.
Once the relevant data about the students are analyzed and if the IEP team determines that the student's behavior is not related to their disability and that their educational placement as it is was appropriate, the LEA applies the relevant disciplinary procedure that is applicable to the students who do not have disabilities to the student under consideration.”
I am stuck on the clause that reads: “The Local Education Agency determines whether a particular student needs disciplining.” Whether. As in whether they do or whether they DON’T.
Now I totally understand the need for separating the fact that some students are challenged with special needs. My concern, however, lies in the fact that districts in my state are constantly searching for disabilities that they can slap on students in order to receive funding. Students might not necessarily receive a proper diagnosis through a proper agency. Students who may in fact be oppositional defiant, but would only receive a diagnosis of ADHD, because that’s an ‘easy’ diagnosis, instead of receiving the actual help they need in order to avoid the angry outbursts that can harm other students, faculty and staff. Students that might just be on the brink of snapping, yet could turn around and use these types of meetings as a ‘get out of jail free’ card when they finally do.
And if a situation like this does occur, with behavior happening that is linked to a diagnosis, and the agency decides to not discipline the child, no one else is informed as to why because of privacy laws.
This type of ‘law’ frightens me. How many students who have caused violence in schools had a possible background of this type of meeting where the behavior wasn’t looked at deep enough and the student was allowed back into class because of the determination that the behavior stemmed from a diagnosis? How many of them could have been stopped? Violent behavior doesn’t just happen. Its roots are far and deep. By the time a child takes weapons to school and has a plan to harm others, there have been many prior behaviors that should have tipped off authorities. What if those behaviors did happen and did tip off authorities, yet the child wasn’t removed because the behavior was linked to a diagnosis, so a slap on the wrist occurred and the child was let back into the stream of things, but no one else knew about them until it was too late? Or ever?
I am responsible for my little people, for their every need while they are with me. My focus is for all students to be able to learn in a safe and appropriate environment. And I do understand the need for privacy. However, if privacy begins to override safety of students, staff and faculty, then we have lost the focus of our jobs.