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Culturally Responsive PracticesMaking Manifestation
Determination Decisions
Presented by Debbie Morrison
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Roll Call
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EVERYONE please use your chat pod and
indicate the district/LEA you are
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People First Language
“People First Language puts the person before the disability and describes
what a person has, not who a person is.”
Kathie Snow. (n.d.) A few words about People First Language. Disability is Natural. Retrieved
August 1, 2012 from
If the conduct in question was caused by, or
had a direct and substantial relationship to,
the child’s disability.”
34C.F.R. 300.530(e)(I)
Importantly, if the conduct in question was
the direct result of the school system failing
to implement any part of the IEP, the conduct
must, be determined to be a manifestation of
the child’s disability.
IDEA 34 C.F.R. 300.530 (e)(ii)
 How
can you ensure that
appropriate manifestation
determination reviews have
been conducted???????
Identify key
legal requirements
of MDR’s
Answer Who?
What? When?
Why? questions
about MDR’s
Examine what the
courts have decided
regarding MDR’s
“You be the
Judge!” Activity
to meet????
Counting the days………
And on the 11th day…
Produced by NICHCY, 2007
When the district proposes removal of
student that would exceed 10 school days
due to violation of code of conduct, district,
parent, and relevant members of the IEP team
shall meet to conduct MDR within 10 school
days of district’s decision.
IDEA requires presence of “relevant members”
of the IEP team.
Who is “relevant?”
Who is responsible for deciding the
The flexibility offered by Congress also
means there can be disputes over
determining the “relevant” members of the
IEP team. (Fitzgerald v. Fairfax)
64 Fed. Reg. 12,625 requires that a MDR
must conducted by the IEP team and other
qualified personnel
“Other” qualified people may include
individuals who are knowledgeable about:
-how a child’s disability can impact on
-understands the impact and
consequences of behavior on persons,
the child and his disabilities.
IEP team members
Parent and their
School psychologist and
behavior specialist(must
be able to certify disability
and verify IEP is
implemented) Prior notice
is given
High Out of School Removal Rate (based on
total SWD population 2800 students)
Sent to Alternative Site
Added a School Psychologist/Behavior Strategist
to every MDR meeting; SPED Administrative
review of all decisions
* 7 Big Three-Total 29
Student with emotional disturbance had
behavior plan for rude/sarcastic behavior
Student led a weekend paintball attack on
Attack included breaks to replenish supplies
District convened MDR
Parents challenged composition of MDR team
on two grounds
1st challenge: Parents claimed IDEA requires
parent consent to MDR Composition
Poll Question: What do you think? Is this
correct? Must a school district get consent for
the MDR composition? Answer Yes or NO.
Outcome: No
Both the hearing officer and the district court
rejected their argument that they had an
“equal right” to determine the members of
the MDR team.
LEA determines which school/LEA personnel
will participate-The school determines the
school staff’s members
Parents may determine whom else they wish
to invite in addition
Second (2nd) Challenge: Parents claimed a
member is only “relevant” if he/she:
Knows the student personally and
Has previously served on the student’s IEP
Poll Question: Is this correct? Vote “Yes” or
Outcome: No. IDEA isn’t so strict.
Each member must serve a purpose relevant
to the MDR:
Here-Parents, teachers who knew student
Psychologist familiar with students with
emotional disturbance
Special Education Administrator familiar with
Assistant Principal who investigated the
Parents claimed violation of IDEA:
Not all MDR members reviewed the file.
The review was not done prior to the MDR.
POLL QUESTION: Was there a violation of
IDEA?? Vote Yes or No.
The answer is NO.
The Court found the district’s review satisfied
There is no requirement that every member
review all information
No requirement that the review be completed
before the MDR
The district psychologist reviewed student’s
file before the MDR
At the meeting, psychologist presented a
MDR team reviewed discipline history
Teachers presented class observations
Team discussed paintball incident
A parent successfully challenged an
MDR on the basis that the notice did
not properly notify her of her right to
invite relevant members of the IEP
Parents must be aware of their right to
invite relevant participants.
Exactly how much opportunity must be
provided to parents to provide input on
What if there are disagreements on
To what degree must each member
To avoid problems and confusion, schools
can choose/continue to conduct MD’s in
properly scheduled and constituted IEP team
34 CFR 300.530 (e) (1) states the individuals
involved in making the manifestation
determination are charged with reviewing all
relevant information in the student’s file,
including the IEP, any teacher observations,
and any relevant information provided by the
Evaluation and diagnostic results
Observations and objective data
Current IEP
Relevant written information by parent
Discipline history
◦ Suspension/Expulsion information
◦ Louisiana form
◦ Principal’s investigation report
◦ Informal due process (Student report of incident)
◦ PBIS and interventions
Student with Other Health Impairments
Left threatening messages on principal’s
District convened MDR
State DOE found MDR failed to consider
relationship of conduct to student’s disability
District was ordered to hold a new MDR
After the first MDR, student was admitted to
psychiatric hospital
Hospital conducted an assessment
Parent provided assessment report to second
MDR team
MDR team did not consider the report.
Poll Question: Did the district do anything
wrong in this MDR meeting? Yes/ No
Yes. The court held the psychiatric report
The MDR’s refusal to consider the report was
an “Egrgious procedural violation.”
Second MDR was ordered by Va. DOE
District felt only purpose was to consider
relationship between conduct and disability—
NOT to redo the whole meeting
District barred the parent from submitting
any information
Second MDR was made up of different
The HO and court found this approach
seriously flawed.
District erred by: Fragmenting the inquiry,
having different members on the MDR,
Denying parental participation, failing to
review psychiatric report
Lessons Learned:
Comply with procedure the FIRST time
Consider all relevant information to get a
total picture of a student
Beware of “fragmented” discussion of the
Was the conduct in question
caused by or had a direct
relationship to the student’s
Was the conduct in question a
direct result of the district’s failure
to implement the student’s IEP?
(20 U.S.C. 1415 (k)(1)(E)(i))
Manifestation Determination
If Yes--
Produced by NICHCY, 2007
If the answer to either question (1) or
question (2) is “YES”, the conduct shall be
determined to be a manifestation of the
child’s disability.
The student is returned to the placement
from which he was removed, unless the
parent and the district agree to change a
placement as part of its modification of the
student’s behavior intervention plan. 34 CFR
300. 350 (f) (2)
IEP Team shall:
Conduct FBA and implement BIP (if not done prior)
If BIP exists, review BIP and modify it to address
Behavioral goal and objective covering the actual
offense that student committed should be included in
BIP may need to include some counseling services
from Social Worker or School Psychologist
Examples of Manifestations
• Kicking a male schoolmate in the groin was directly related to
the post-traumatic stress student with emotional disturbance
suffered as the result of a sexual assault. Manteca Unified Sch.
Dist., 50 IDELR 298 (SEA CA 2008).
• Finding that a child’s (with emotional disturbance) emotional
and oppositional behavior "spiraled out of his control" when an
assistant principal confronted the child rather than allowing him
to back off as provided in his BIP. Swansea Pub. Schs., 47 IDELR
278 (SEA MA 2007).
• Finding of no manifestation was overturned regarding student
who had learning disabilities and left threatening messages for
principal when district failed to properly assess student and
failed to develop a BIP. School Board of the City of Norfolk, 56
IDELR 18 (E.D. Va. 2010).
Manifestation Determination
If NO-
Produced by NICHCY, 2007
Manifestation Determination
If No–
(Determination is that behavior is not a manifestation)
Child is disciplined in the same manner and
for the same length of time* as a child
without disabilities would be disciplined
except that services provisions apply
* Child continues to receive services as described
in 300.530(d)
Produced by NICHCY, 2007
Not a Manifestation
• Student with a learning disability ripping pants off of a
female student outside lunch room. Randy M. v. Texas
City ISD, 32 IDELR 168 (S.D. Tex. 2000).
• 11th-grader’s( who had emotional disturbance) decision
to conduct a weekend paintball raid on his high school was
unrelated to his anxiety issues. Fitzgerald v. Fairfax County
Sch. Bd., 50 IDELR
165 (E.D. Va. 2008).
• Decision of student with a learning disability to bring
marijuana and tobacco to school. Lancaster Elementary
Sch. Dist., 49 IDELR 53 (SEA CA 2007).
Serious bodily Injury
For certain violations of code of conduct,
district may remove a student to interim
alternative educational setting (determined by
IEP Team) for not more than 45 school days
regardless of whether behavior was a
Is it a manifestation???
Is it not a manifestation????
Use the Poll Box to answer Yes or No for the
following student cases:
Case Number 1:
Los Angeles USD, 111 LRP 60703 (SEA CA 2011
A student with ADHD (had a history of impulsive
behavior) sold his prescription drugs ADDERALL to
another student. He went home and brought the drugs
back the next day to conduct the sale.
Manifestation????Vote yes or no.
NO. The student was unable to convince the
Hearing Officer that his sale was related to his
disability. Considering a variety of sources of
information, the school found out that the
student initially planned the details of the sale,
went home, and brought the drugs back the
next day. The hearing officer agreed that this
was NOT impulsive, but “planned
and deliberate.” “The student’s conduct
demonstrated poor judgment but the evidence
did not demonstrate that the poor judgment
was a manifestation of his disability.
Case Number 2- Medford Public Schools 110
LRP 31566 (SEA MA 2010)
Another student with ADHD with impulsivity
issues was involved in a campus felony car
break-in. A private psychologist wrote to the
school arguing that the behaviors were in fact
related to executive function deficits. There
was no evaluation record of such deficits. The
Psychologist had not conducted an evaluation
and had little contact with the student.
Manifestation of his disability?? Vote Yes or NO.
NO. The hearing officer agreed with the school
staff that the circumstances of the nighttime
car break-in involved careful planning, and
preparation, including arranging for a disguise
and attempting to set up an alibi.
NOTE: Impulsivity Argument-frequently raised by
students with a variety of emotional and
behavior disabilities, but must have to indicate
behavior that is quick, reactive, and without
planning or thought.
Each MDR should have an administrative
review for compliance
A behavioral support person should be
assigned to attend every MDR meeting
The MDR is NOT determined based on a
student’s disability label or classification.
Make sure all decisions answer the 2
questions for the MDR
Keep the meeting student centered and
discuss alternatives to keep the student in
“Legal Lessons Learned from Manifestation
Determination Cases”-Jan Tomsky, Esq.
“The Proper Role of IEP Teams in Disciplinary
Actions”-Jose L. Martin, Attorney at Law
“Student Discipline and the Manifestation
Determination Review” David B. Hodgins
LRP Publications
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The contents of this PowerPoint presentation were developed under a grant from the US Department of
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