• Challenging Behaviors

    Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavioral Intervention Plans

    A Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is a process for understanding when and how a student's problem behaviors tend to arise. When a student with a disability engages in behaviors that impede his/her learning or that of others, despite interventions, or places the student or others at risk of injury or harm, it is recommended that the school conduct an FBA. In addition, an FBA is necessary when the Committee on Special Education is considering more restrictive programs or placements because of a student’s behavior and is mandatory when a student is subject to disciplinary action and it has been determined that the behavior is related  to the child’s disability.

    Following an FBA, the team that conducted the assessment may develop a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to address the behaviors, if the results of the FBA recommend this. Parents can, and should, be involved in both of these processes. See the New York State Education Department's website for more information about Functional Behavioral Assessments and Behavioral Intervention Plans.

    Manifestation Determination Reviews

    When a student with a disability is removed from his or her regular educational placement (either due to suspension(s) or teacher removals)

    • for more than 10 school days in a row, or
    • for more than 10 total days in a school year if the behaviors are a pattern of removals,

    the student is entitled to a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR). The MDR results in a decision about whether or not the behavior that led to the suspension was a result of the student's disability or is due to a failure to implement the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). If the MDR team determines that the behavior was a result of his/her disability, the student may not be suspended or removed from his regular educational placement, except in limited circumstances.  More information about the Manifestation Determination Review (MDR) process on page 202 of the New York State Education Department’s Procedural Safeguards for Student with Disabilities Subject to Discipline.


    In considering your own child's behavior, you may want to visit the Think:Kids website or the Lives in the Balance website, which both describe a research-based approach to problem behavior. It is based on the idea that children "act out" because they lack certain kinds of thinking skills  -  skills like managing transitions between activities and goals, separating emotions from intentions, or working through distractions  -  and that children can be helped to learn these skills.