Manifestation Hearing Lawyer

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When Should an MDR Take Place?

A manifestation determination review (MDR) should take place when a child is being considered for a more restrictive placement based on discipline:

  • suspension of 10+ days for the year
  • removal to a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP)
  • expulsion

NOTE: The Functional Behavior Assessment/Manifestation Determination Review (FBA/MDR) form will be used.

Purpose of an MDR

The admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee determines if there is a causal relationship between the behavior for which the student was suspended and the student’s disability (or a suspected disability of which school had knowledge before incident).

NOTE: It is NOT the purpose of an MDR to decide if the student did what he/she is accused of doing or to decide what the student’s punishment should be.

Timeline for Conducting an MDR

An MDR must occur within 10 school days of any decision to change the student’s placement because of a violation of the student code of conduct.

Guidelines for Conducting an MDR

Step 1. The ARD committee considers the following information:

  • Evaluation and diagnostic results and information provided by the parent(s)
  • Observation(s) of the student’s behavior:
    • number of days student had been suspended this school year prior to this incident and for what behaviors
    • total number of days of suspension as of MDR
  • Current IEP and behavior support plan

Step 2. The ARD committee then determines:

  1. (Q1) Was the conduct in question caused by, or did it have a direct and substantial relationship to, the student’s disability?
    • Review the behavioral history of the student.
    • Was the behavior that gave rise to this suspension ever a concern previously for this student?
    • Review the incident that gave rise to the student’s suspension. What preceded the incident? What was the student’s role in the incident? What steps could or should have been taken to avoid the incident, and by whom?
  2. (Q2) Was the conduct in question the direct result of the district’s failure to implement the student’s IEP?
    • Review the student’s placement and the student’s IEP service minutes and goals. Was the student receiving all the services set forth in the student’s IEP?
    • Does the student have a behavior support plan? Was it being followed?
    • If the committee has determined that the student was receiving all the services set forth in the student’s IEP, and the BSP, if any, was being followed, then the answer to question two is “NO.”
    • If the student’s IEP was not being fully implemented, however, then the team must determine whether that failure contributed to the conduct that gave rise to the suspension.
    • The committee should consider:
      • If the IEP had been fully implemented, could the conduct that gave rise to the suspension still have occurred?
      • If the IEP had been fully implemented, would the conduct have been less likely?

Step 3. The behavior is considered a manifestation of the student’s disability if the committee answered “yes” to either Q1 or Q2.

If the behavior is a manifestation of the student’s disability, then the student must return to the suspending school after his/her suspension unless an administrative transfer has been arranged, or unless special circumstances (weapons, drugs, or serious bodily injury) are involved and the school has been notified that an alternative placement has been arranged.

NOTE: At this point the committee must determine if a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) needs to be conducted in order to revise the behavioral support plan (BSP) OR if the child does not have a BSP, does one need to be written.

If the determination is “NO”, the ARD committee has the authority to recommend the relevant disciplinary procedures to the student with disabilities in the same manner and for the same duration as the procedures would be applied to a child without disabilities, EXCEPT for whatever special education and related services the school system is required to provide the child with disabilities under IDEA.

Documents Involved

  • Development of the MDR (aka MDR Supplement; available on the Portal)
  • Development of the BSP (available on the Portal)

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