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: http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/discipl.fab.starin.htm
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: www.nichcy.org.educatechildren/IEP/pages/special-factors.aspx
If you need additional help, review the articles on our Behavior & Discipline page at