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Special Education Law

Can a behavior intervention plan help my child?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2021 | Behavior Intervention Plans |

Although undefined by the IDEA, a Behavior Intervention Plan (“BIP”) can generally be defined as a component of a child’s Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) that describes positive behavioral interventions and other strategies that must be implemented to prevent and manage a student’s inappropriate or unacceptable behavior.

In most cases, a BIP outlines the targeted behaviors, the behaviors that are expected, positive interventions, strategies and supports to address the behaviors, and the positive and negative consequences for identified behaviors.

In certain circumstances, a local educational agency (“LEA”) may be obligated by law to develop a BIP.  For example, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) explicitly mandates the development of a BIP in one circumstance.  If a student is subjected to a disciplinary change of placement and the conduct is found to be a manifestation of a disability, the district must either:

  1. Conduct a functional behavioral assessment (“FBA”), unless the LEA had conducted an FBA before the behavior that resulted in the change of placement occurred, and implement a BIP for the child; or
  2. If a BIP already has been developed, review the BIP and modify it, as necessary, to address the behavior.

There is no requirement that LEAs are required to develop a BIP for every student.  Instead, a student’s need for behavioral interventions and supports must be decided on an individual basis by the student’s IEP team.

The IDEA requires that the IEP team, in the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies to address that behavior.  The IDEA generally gives IEP teams discretion to determine when a BIP is necessary for a student to receive a free and appropriate public education (“FAPE”).  The failure to develop a BIP when a child needs one can result in a denial of FAPE.

In order to develop an appropriate BIP, an LEA should complete an FBA to determine the function of the student’s behaviors which impede his/her educational benefit.  Generally, triggers include behavior that “interferes with the important teaching and learning activities of school.”

Some typical examples of behaviors that should be addressed by a BIP include anger management, impulse control, anti-social relationships with peers, self-stimulatory behaviors, inappropriate vocalizations, an inability to focus, verbal disruptions, physical aggression, property destruction, excessive absences, and elopement.  The BIP should be specific as to what behavior is being targeted for modification.

It is also important for the FBA to identify the functions of the student’s behavior.  Thus, a BIP that identifies a student’s behavior as “noncompliance” without an understanding of the function of student’s behavior may be deficient, since “noncompliance” is not specific enough, and without understanding the function of the student’s behavior, it may be impossible to provide successful intervention.