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Child is Disrupting My Class – What Can I Do?

by Wrightslaw

I am a general education teacher. One of my students, who has an IEP, interrupts class several times a day.  It is not uncommon for him to blurt out on-  and off-topic comments, or start singing, or get up and leave the room.

I have been told that there is nothing the school can do about his behavior because the law is absolute. The district says 80% of our special education students need to be in general education classes 80% of the time.  Is there a law that protects my general education students?  Their education is being negatively impacted on a daily basis.

The law does not require that any percent of children be educated in general ed classes any percent of the time. If the district is using a formula (80%), they do not understand the “least restrictive environment” preference in the IDEA, which says,

“To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities … are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability … is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” 20 U.S.C. 1412(5)(A)

Courts have held that educating a disabled child in general education (LRE), while preferable, is secondary to ensuring that the child receives a free, appropriate public education.

In writing the IDEA, Congress knew that some children have behavior problems and may be disruptive. If a child’s behavior prevents him or other children from learning, the IEP team should do a Functional Behavioral Assessment. As the general ed teacher, you can and should request a Functional Behavioral Assessment.

After this assessment is completed, the child’s team should meet to develop positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and other strategies to change the child’s behavior. As the general education teacher, you know the behavior that needs to be addressed. You should be part of the team that develops positive behavioral interventions and supports.

We discuss these issues – children with behavior problems and other special factors – in  Wrightslaw: All About IEPs. (Chapter 7)

This article about Functional Behavior Assessments will help you understand what needs to be done:

Check the info on OSEP National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support at

You’ll see that you have a state coordinator who is responsible for providing technical support and answering questions about how to implement PBIS. Contact your state coordinator for assistance.

Review this short article about behavior issues and other special factors in the IEP:

If you need additional help, review the articles on our Behavior & Discipline page at

Good luck!

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33 Comments on "Child is Disrupting My Class – What Can I Do?"


when I was in elementary school I would cry, sometimes it was because i didn’t understand the work but most of the time it was because i was being bullied from my classmates. I was kicked out from my class, I send most of my school hours outside, because of this i was behind my classes with reading and math. I was put into ED classes and until high school, i was told i was placed in the wrong classes. now I am working to be a ed teacher and change this. there are so many children like me


This is a very complicated problem. I work as a speech language pathologies at an elementary school in Florida. I believe children with behavioral problems do NOT belong in gen ed. There are children with low IQ and severe Autism to name a few that cry out, yell dis robe, hit other students and teachers and throw things that should not be in gen ed. These students take a significant amount of time away from the class by distracting the teacher trying to manage the behavior. Some low functioning students without extreme behaviors can add positively to a gen ed class. I do not believe that seriously and consistently disruptive children should be in gen ed classes. It does not help them or the gen ed students. Behavior plans do not help all students. There has to be a way to teach all students for sure but the very disruptive either low or high iQ should not be mainstreamed until behaviors are properly controlled.


I understand that some parents who have students diagnosed as having a LD, or an ED , want their child in a reg Ed setting. As a reg ED teacher, this is a very difficult situation. The special needs child as well as the reg Ed students are cheated. Special Ed students deserve to be in a smaller setting. I have seen way too many times how these students are just miserable. Most of them realize that they are not academically or emotionally inept like their peers–this frustrates them and its so embarrassing to them. Something needs to be done because It is killing the American Classroom, not to mention the educator.


Our answer or societies answer to most problems is to swing the pendulmn as far to the other side as possible. NCLB was put into place to fix a wrong. Special Needs students deserved access to the same academic rigor as their peers. That is true of those who’s needs are for the most part physical. Those students who have learning disabilities and behavior disorders require greater support. That support cannot be expected to happen in a gen ed classroom. I am a teacher in a district high school behvior support program. This has been a contained classroom for disruptive students. The past couple of years they have worked to move our kids into gen ed. classes. This is a nightmare for our teachers and limits my ability to work with them on positive behavior strategies. Write your senator and congress, this cannot continue.


I have Autism and Complex PTSD from being abused psychology by emotionally disturbed students. I don’t understand why students who behave like horror film villains are allowed in public schools. I as is typical for PTSD survivors blame myself for not yelling, screaming more when these students abused me. Instead I was punished for trying to run away from them in terror.

I ended up gaining validation for what I went through being wrong from horror films. I lived through a life that is the type horror films depict. Students finding me, scaring me to tears, again again and again. I finally resorted to self-harm and mental dissociation. Why do children have less protection than adults from violent abusers than adults?


You don’t get Autism from being abused. Open up a book once in a while and educate yourself.