COVID-19   Law    Advocacy    Topics A-Z     Training    Wrights' Blog   Wrightslaw Store    Yellow Pages for Kids 

 Home > Controlling the Outcome of a Complaint by Pete Wright, Esq.

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

Training Programs

Feb. 2-5 - San Antonio, TX

Mar. 23 - Anchorage, AK

Mar. 30 - Long Island, NY

Apr. 5 - Hill AFB, UT

Apr. 11+12 - Virginia (via Zoom)

Apr. 20 - Cleveland, OH

Apr. 24+25 - Southern CA (via Zoom)

Sept. 30 - Dallas, TX

Full Schedule


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
Military Discounts
Student Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

Controlling the Outcome of a Complaint
by Pete Wright, Esq.

Print this page

My son has autism. He has an IEP and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). Recently, I learned that his teachers put him in a time out box when they didn't know how to handle his behavior. When I pictured my son in that small windowless box, I was shocked and horrified. The teachers called the time out box a "study corral."

I filed a complaint with the state department of education (DOE). The school claimed that the Behavior Intervention Plan was not valid because they had not attached the BIP to my son's IEP.

The DOE found "no violation" because the BIP was not "attached to" or mentioned in the IEP. The state DOE made this ruling, even though I provided copies of the BIP that was in place at the time of these incidents.


1. To be valid, does the law require the school to attach the BIP to the IEP?

2. If the answer is "yes," isn't the IEP team responsible for ensuring that appropriate documents are in place?

Review the Facts and the Law

Review the IEP statute (20 U.S.C. 1414(d); Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, p.99).

Does the law say that you must attach a Behavior Intervention Plan to an IEP?

Does the law say that you must incorporate it by reference into the IEP?

No, it does not.

Rule Regardless of Facts and the Law

Change one fact in this situation. The person with power (in this case, the state DOE employee) wants to rule in your favor. The school argued that the child's IEP did not have the BIP attached.

As a good judge will do, this person in power would find a reason to rule in your favor.

The judge may find:

"The school district asserts that the BIP must be physically attached to the IEP as a matter of law. The law does not require that an IEP have the BIP attached to it. A BIP is clearly a part of the child's educational plan as set forth in the IEP.

The parties relied on the BIP to be part of the child's educational plan, so the BIP was clearly incorporated into the IEP by reference. Thus, the BIP is part of the IEP, even though it was not mechanically stapled to the IEP."

In the case above, the state DOE employee did not want to rule against the school district. If the BIP and IEP were attached by steel cables, the state DOE employee would find another reason to rule against the parent.

The Decision-Maker Controls the Outcome

This happens all the time in litigation. The judge will find a way to rule for or against one party, regardless of the facts and the law.

In our training programs, I explain that the facts and law do not control outcome. The decision-maker controls the outcome.

You must make the decision-maker want to rule in your favor. When parents write a compelling "Letter to the Stranger," they can often accomplish this objective.

Read the original "Letter to the Stranger" at

To Top

Created: 03/07/11