Glossary of Terms

Alternative education: Educational placement offered to a student who cannot or may not attend his traditional base school. Frequently offered to children who have been long term suspended or who are experiencing serious difficulties in the traditional school environment, but not required to be offered unless the child has an IEP. A good option for a child who would otherwise receive no education but often not on par with the traditional schools.

BIP (behavior intervention plan): Usually to result of a FBA, this document is like a behavior contract that sets out the expected behaviors of the student and what the teachers and other adults will do to help the student produce the desired behaviors. Not only for children with IEPs.

Confidential file: A child’s general school records. This file contains records of attendance, grades, and registration for a child’s entire tenure in a district or a level (i.e. middle school, high school). It also contains discipline records and referrals for the past year or two. It is kept in the main office of the school; follow up with the school secretary.

Cumulative file: A child’s special education school records. This file contains records of all testing done to qualify or evaluate a child for special education and services as well as all the IEPs and notes from all IEP meetings. This file is usually kept by the school’s exceptional children’s program director so follow up with her.

Expulsion: Permanent or indefinite removal of a child from the school system. The child must be 14. The school must present clear and convincing evidence that the child’s continued presence in school is a clear threat to the safety of staff or students. Alternative placements must be considered before a student may be expelled. Also, a new school district may honor the expulsion of another district and refuse to admit a student was has been expelled elsewhere.

FAPE (free appropriate public education): The federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) requires students with disabilities to receive a FAPE. Although the definition varies with the child and the jurisdiction, this generally means that the child receives the instruction, services, and modifications that he needs to make suitable academic progress. While a FAPE does not require the best possible education, it does require more than de minimus progress.

FBA (functional behavior assessment): An observation of a child with behavioral difficulties to determine what causes or can prevent the unacceptable behavior. Often the precursor to a BIP.

IEP (individualized education plan): The plan developed by the school and parents for a child who needs special education. It includes the child’s placement (what type of classroom or school) and modifications or special services to be offered as well as statements of the child’s present level and goals for the coming year. A child with a behavioral or emotional disability may have behavior or social skill goals and related modifications and/or a FBA/BIP

Long term suspension (LTS): The temporary exclusion of a child from his public school of attendance for more than 10 days, up to and including 365 calendar days. Bringing a gun to school, assaulting and seriously injuring school personnel, and making a false bomb threat are mandatory 365 days suspensions. State law requires an appeals process be offered to the student for all long-term suspensions.

Manifestation determination review (MDR): This review is required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) when a child with disabilities is suspended for more than 10 days at once or more than 10 total days in a school year if the suspensions exhibit a pattern (i.e. four three-day suspensions for fighting). The meeting should be held before the LTS appeal and within the first ten days of the suspension. The meeting is to determine whether the behavior that led to the suspension was a manifestation of the child’s disability or a direct result of the school’s failure to implement the IEP. If it was, he may not be suspended for it.

Short term suspension (STS): The temporary exclusion of a child from his public school of attendance for less than or equal to school 10 days. No appeal process required and frequently none offered.

Special education: Instruction that is specially designed to help a student with disabilities learn. This can be delivered by a regular or special education teacher in any classroom and be a full day experience or “pull-out” services where the child receives extra help in an area impacted by his disability. NOTE: a child who needs only related services like speech or occupational therapy is not in need of special education and does not qualify for an IEP, although he may qualify for a 504 plan to receive those services.