There are many students in the state of Pennsylvania with behavioral and emotional disabilities. Often times, these individuals have a difficult time finishing assignments or engaging in behaviors that other students can. Instead of special needs students being punished for this, they should receive the help that they need. However, there are many students who face disciplinary actions due to their behaviors associated with their disability. Students who are facing expulsion, suspension, or alternative placement due to their disability may be subject to a test known as Manifestation Determination. If you are in a similar situation with your child, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Pennsylvania special education attorney for assistance ensuring your child’s educational rights.
What is Manifestation Determination?
When special needs students face disciplinary action, the Manifestation Determination process assesses if the behavior they are being punished for was related to their disability. In order to make this decision, the school district collects and analyzes information regarding the child. This includes their evaluation, diagnosis, observations, Individualized Education Programs (IEP), and other services that are provided for their disability. It is the job of the IEP team to make a Manifestation Determination. If they determine the behavior was not a manifestation of the disability, the district can discipline the child accordingly.
In these situations, the school district should coordinate a meeting with the child’s parents, the Local Education Agency, and the IEP team. This should be done within 10 days of the school’s decision to discipline the student. During this time, the information presented regarding the child will be addressed to determine if disciplinary action is justified. This can be done by assessing two factors:
- If the conduct was related to the child’s disability
- If the conduct was a result of the district not implementing the IEP correctly
If those present in the meeting come to the conclusion that either one or both of these factors are applicable to the situation, the child’s behavior will be considered a manifestation of their disability. When this happens, the school is required to adjust the child’s special education plan rather than disciplining them.
Do I Need an Attorney?
When facing a manifestation determination meeting, it is best to have a skilled education attorney on your team. This is because defending the educational rights of a special needs student is of the utmost importance. Meeting school district members can leave a parent vulnerable when defending their child, which is where an attorney can step in to help. They are able to guide parents through this process to ensure their child receives the services they need and are not disciplined for behaviors out of their control.
Contact our Firm
Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm in York County, Pennsylvania focusing on Education Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation matters. If you need a knowledgeable attorney that will effectively represent your interests, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.