What is a Manifestation Determination Meeting?
Every American child is guaranteed a Free and Appropriate Public Education (also known as FAPE). This means that the school district and its teachers have to do the best they can to ensure the student is given every opportunity to be successful in progressing in school (that said, we cannot force a student to be successful if they do not wish to participate and complete work. Our job is to provide appropriate work and accommodations for the student so that the student always has the option to be successful if they choose to be).
Because of FAPE and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (also known as IDEA), if a student who has been diagnosed with a disability (ie--has an IEP or a 504 Plan) does something that requires suspension from school for 10 days or more (per the guidelines of the school district), the student's team and parent(s) need to meet within 10 days of the beginning of the suspension to have a Manifestation Determination Meeting.
At a Manifestion Determination Meeting (MDT), the team members need to look at the reason for the suspension and decide (determine) if the offense was related to/because of the student's disability (manifestation). If it is determined that the offense was the result of the student's disability, the team then needs to look at whether or not they have done everything they can to try to accommodate that student's disability in their school.
Result of Disability, More Can Be Done
If the team decides they have not done everything they can for the student, the team will then discuss what changes need to take place so that the student can be successful, and they will begin to outline a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). At this point, the suspension is considered complete, and the school and parent can discuss the student's return to the school (some parents might feel it is still necessary for their child to be out for another day or two while the new plan is getting put into place).
- Example: a student has a behavioral disability and throws chairs in the classroom because they are upset about something that happened in class--the team may decide that this student needs to spend that class period recieving services in the behavior resource room until they demonstrate the ability to act appropriately in that setting--ie--earn their way back into the regular classroom.
Result of Disability, All Has Been Done
If they decide they have done everything for the student, the team will then discuss whether the boundary school is really the best placement for the student, or if he/she should be referred to another program, like the Day School or a treatment facility.
- Example: a student runs through the halls yelling and disrupting classes frequently. Student is already spending much of their day in the behavior resource room and has been suspended multiple times for similarly disruptive behaviors.
Not the Result of Disability
If it is determined by the team that the offense is not the result of the student's disability, the suspension will stand, and the student becomes eligible to apply for IAES or look at other academic options, like correspondence school.
- A student who is only classified as having a reading disability brings and distributes marijuana or vape at school.
Once the Suspension Has Been Served
If a Manifestation Determination Meeting has to be held for a student, regardless of outcome, a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) has to be created by the boundary school for the student upon their return. If a student is suspended until the end of the year, and their boundary school changes, it becomes the responsibility of their new boundary school to ensure that a BIP is in place.