Written by Steven Aleman, Attorney and Education Policy Specialist for DRTx
State lawmakers met in Austin for the 87th Legislature in 2021. Among other public school issues, they addressed the needs of students with disabilities who have, or should have, a behavioral intervention plan (BIP). Updates to the Texas Education Code now require public schools to better plan for and monitor changes in behaviors that impede a student’s learning and success in school.
A BIP is dedicated to addressing challenging behaviors of a student with a disability. It identifies factors that might lead to behavioral outbursts or behaviors that parents and teachers hope to minimize. Most importantly, a BIP provides positive solutions for teachers and staff to use rather than simply punishing the student. In Texas, a student’s BIP is officially considered part of the student’s individualized education program (IEP). I’d like to address three basic questions around BIPs under the state’s amended Education Code.
How often must schools consider the success of a student’s BIP?
The new state mandate is that each admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee review an existing BIP on at least an annual basis. ARD committees must review and update a student’s IEP on an annual basis so BIPs can likewise get updated at the same time. The committee must specifically review and consider any changes in the student’s circumstances, such as placement, discipline, unexcused absences; unsupervised departures from the student’s educational setting; and the safety of the student and others.
If a student is restrained at school, what is the new requirement regarding a BIP?
In Texas, if public school personnel physically retrain a student with a disability then they must give a written notice to the student’s parents. This notification requirement is expanded now so that the written notice must do one of two things. For a student with a BIP, the school must include a recommendation on whether the ARD committee should revise the BIP. For a student without a BIP, the school must include information on how the parent may request an ARD Committee meeting to discuss conducting a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and developing a BIP. The FBA is the formal evaluation to inform the writing of a BIP.
If a student is subject to a disciplinary change of placement, what is the new requirement regarding a BIP?
The new state mandate is that when the placement of a student with disability changes on account of disciplinary action, then the school must take certain action. If the school has never conducted a FBA, then the school must seek parental consent, within ten (10) school days of the change in placement, to conduct a FBA. If the school’s FBA of the student is more than one (1) year old, then the school must seek parental consent, within ten (10) school days of the change in placement, to conduct a new FBA. This will lead to the school either developing a new BIP or revising the existing BIP.
If you find the school is not following these new guidelines, please contact our intake line for assistance at 1-800-252-9108.