Manifestation Hearing - Am I being Railroaded?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by PhilBob, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. PhilBob

    PhilBob Guest

    My son is gifted, ADHD, and EBD (although there’s some confusion because gifted + ADHD can look a lot like EBD).

    It’s a long story – but difficult child channels his inner Billy Madison and tells someone at school that he has a list of people that “he doesn’t want to let live until age 30” - as well as a list of people that “he wants to let live until age 30” – or something to that effect.

    This gets interpreted as a threat – and he’s suspended for four days. The rumor mill is very active (and facilitated by the school). The other child’s parents think that this has all been overblown by the school – but none of this can be undone.

    This brings him to seven suspended days for the year.

    First we’re told that we need to have a re-admittance conference.

    Next, we’re told that he needs to go through a risk assessment interview with a psychologist before he can be re-admitted.

    Finally, that’s cancelled, and the school schedules a “Manifestation Hearing” – where we’ve been told that they’ll present us with a plan regarding his future (mentioning a separate designated EBD classroom in the district). The draft manifestation hearing documents already had been filled out that this was not a manifestation of his disability and that the IEP was followed. They then handwrote in the other options (“yes” vs. “no”). They wont share the “plan” with us until the meeting.

    We’ve always disagreed with the EBD label – but accepted it since it was the only way to get him some help with his emotional/social needs. We go back and forth on it – but it’s still on the IEP.

    Looking back at his IEP Evaluation – his FBA specifically discusses anger management skills, social skills, and coping strategies – and identified “poor anger control” and “excessive sense of persecution” as areas of significant concern.

    It would seem like a direct manifestation of what’s covered by the IEP – but at the same time the school wants to railroad us into accepting a transfer to the dedicated EBD class.

    Any thoughts on how to proceed with this?

    How hostile is this meeting going to be?

    How is a decision actually made (are my wife and I just two votes out of six - so the school does whatever it wants)?
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome!

    I've never been through a manifestation hearing, so I cannot offer any advice on that....but I wanted to welcome you to our group just the same.

    Questions: What is EBD?

    How old is your son?

    In what context was this list of people your son does not want to live? Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a situation in which such a list would not be considered a threat...

    And what were the prior incidents that bring the total suspensions to seven days?

    The more info you are able to share - the more advice our group is able to offer...

    I'm sure some of our more experienced warrior parents will weigh in soon!
  3. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Never been down that road but they don't happen all that often. If you don't have an advocate already (sounds like you don't) I would seriously be looking for someone if you are thinking they are going to propose a placement to which you absolutely will not agree or that they are not going to find this to be a manifestation of his disability and the discipline consequences in that case would be things like expulsion.

    I'm not sure what you mean by EBD either but I'm assuming it is an emotional disability category of some kind (Emotional/Behavioral Disability?).

    But if this is NOT a manifestation of his disability then what the heck is the reasoning that substantiates a move to a more restrictive EBD placement? You can't have it both ways it seems to me.

    Either this was a manifestation of his disability that is covered by the IEP and FBA, in which case it might warrant an IEP meeting to review the current placement - or - it's not a manifestation of his disability, in which case it is treated the same way it would be if he wasn't disabled.

    To already have a plan to move him to a more restrictive placement implies that there is no reason for the hearing as someone has already made the decision that
    1)the incident was disability-related and 2) that the incident warrants a change to a more restrictive placement.

    I recommend that you follow this link to Wright's Law page of links on Discipline and Behavior as this is a complicated subject and only you know the particulars.

    As I understand it there are two issues at stake here.

    1. Is this a manifestation of his disability?
    2. Are the charges the direct result of the failure of the school to provide the services required by the IEP?

    So it is not only the student who is "on trial" but the school too. If the answer to the first question is YES then the answer to the second question is almost certainly YES. Failure to provide services called for in the IEP is grounds for further action against the district on your part should you choose to see it that way. It should certainly trigger an IEP meeting to review the IEP and revisit services and placement it seems to me.

    Given the possible implications of the decision, I think there is no doubt that the meeting will be hostile. I think you can count on that at least from the district people. The teachers may be ambivalent but they're going to be under pressure from the district to do what they're told so I wouldn't count on any help there.

    As I said, I think you really do need to find an advocate as soon as possible or consult with one by phone/e-mail ASAP.

    The special education director is the one who makes the manifestation determination according to the info I found but it may vary from district to district and state to state.

    Get an advocate.

  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I agree with rlsnights. You NEED to get an advocate. You can call your state's Dept of Education and inquire about one. What they are saying is contradicting themselves.

    On the on the other hand, if ADHD is his only official diagnosis, these threats are not a symptom of that diagnosis as far as I know. My son has ADHD with some anger issues but would never do something like this. Either there is something more going on with him and he needs a new evaluation OR since he is gifted, I can see that he did this for the shock value to see what would happen. I would seriously find out from him which it was. Has he said anything to you?

    Without more information such as his age, more diagnosis if there are any, medications, therapy? etc, we are limited in what we can tell you. Either way, get an advocate and get him to SOMEONE asap. The school has no choice but to take it seriously for the safety of the other students.
  5. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Further thoughts -

    Is your son on any medications for ADHD or anything else for that matter?

    Is your son seeing a psychiatrist (psychiatrist) for medications? Or a GP?

    What does the psychiatrist say about this incident? (I assume that you have contacted his psychiatrist about this incident. If you haven't, you need to make that call first thing Monday.)

    If he/she says it is a manifestation of his disability then you need a letter that says that right now.

    If he does not have a psychiatrist, you need one as much as you need an advocate in my humble opinion. A GP will not do when you are talking about this kind of issue.

    If you need help figuring out how to get one right away, let us know and we'll give you advice on that.


    Words have power. In this world, specific threats of violence from youth are taken seriously.

    If he is capable of understanding that it would seem that he needs the concept reinforced. If he's not used to being taken seriously (at school or at home or both) when his behavior is out of line, then this will no doubt be a shock to his system. You don't say how old your son is so it's hard to say more about this. If he's young then of course an incremental approach like in school suspension may be appropriate. But if he's in high school then there is, in my opinion, no excuse and consequences that match the seriousness of the misbehavior are appropriate. It's what I would expect if my son were to do something like this when he is not manic or in a mixed mood.

    If he really did just shoot his mouth off cause he was being "smart", you may want to ponder whether it is in your son's long term best interests to bear the consequences of his recklessness now rather than when he is 18+ and no one gives him the chance to blame it (rightly or wrongly) on a disability.

  6. PhilBob

    PhilBob Guest

    Thanks for the comments...

    Diagnosis and Medicine

    He is 10 years old and is diagnosed with ADHD, EBD (see below), and gifted. He’s on Vyvanase for the ADHD.

    What is EBD?

    EBD – at least here – is a catchall term for “Emotional and Behavioral Disorders”

    You’re right (re: a threat). This comes from a character/scene in the movie Billy Madison – meant as a catchall for people a character was upset from. This was a list of people who were (in his mind) – bullying/taunting him.

    He was participating in an online stock market game as part of one of his classes. He saw a password for one of the competing teams – and then logged into their account. He bought and sold some shares – and then was turned in by one of his teammates for doing it. As a result he was kicked out of the activity – and the principal decided to term it “cyber bullying” since a computer was involved. The kid who turned him in – then taunted him for days that “he was the one who got him kicked off the team.” Which leads to the incident here.

    Our big problem is that the school hasn't given us enough time to reach out to his psychiatrist. We were informed of this at end of day on Friday (on a Federal holiday weekend) and have the meeting on Wednesday.
  7. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    You should follow this link for very specific information on handling this kind of hearing.

    Note that you can ask for a delay. Also I would say that they have not given adequate notice and you can request a delay on those grounds alone.

    And you should read and *know* everything in the text of IDEA regulations that applies. You can find that info here

    It appears to me that the school is making a much bigger deal of this than it warrants from what you have shared. It absolutely is moving much more quickly than is necessary as far as I can tell. IDEA says they must hold the hearing within 10 school days of deciding to change his placement. If the first time you were given written notice was Friday then I would guess that you have reasonable grounds to request a delay at least for the full 10 school days.

    Ideally, it would be perfect if you have a copy of a note or other evidence of an exchange with teachers or staff about the bullying your son was experiencing. Expect that anyone at the school who had a conversation about this with you will lie at the hearing and deny any such conversation. That advice is based on personal experience. Even if you can't prove it the advocate needs to know about it in case it is not included in the documentation from the school.

    And I would call the psychiatrist, fax his/her office, leave voice mails on his/her cell - whatever you can do to get in contact tomorrow.

    My advice to you still holds - you need an advocate if at all possible. If you can find someone who includes their e-mail address on their website or some other contact information you should call/send them an e-mail tonight.

    If you're not able to find someone who can respond to the school district tomorrow I would use the info in the first link to write a letter that you will need to hand deliver to the head of Special Education and the principal requesting a delay. Insist on seeing the letter you wrote date stamped and ask for a copy of the date stamped letter. Use the language he suggests as it implies the district is foolish to proceed without giving you adequate time to prepare. In addition to hand delivering the letter, fax it from a machine that you can print out the fax report showing that the letter was faxed to both places.

    I am just guessing here but I suspect that the fact that they already filled out the paperwork to show that the incident was NOT a manifestation of disability could be grounds for a procedural complaint to the State Dept of Ed. Don't let it take priority over finding an advocate or getting the psychiatrist to respond but if you have time tomorrow call your State Dept. of Ed and ask them about that.

    Good luck. Let us know how things go.

  8. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    rlsnights is completely right. Follow ALL of her advice. I hope you are able to multitask because that is what you are going to need to do.

    As for the EBD diagnosis, who gave him that one? That is a term schools use to "classify" the category/reason a student meets the requirements for Special Education services. I have never heard of it as a diagnosis.

    Good luck and keep us posted. I can't stress enough that you should follow all of rlsnights' recommendations. You are being railroaded and need to derail the train, NOW.
  9. PhilBob

    PhilBob Guest

    Going in to this - my big fear was that the IEP team would decide that this wasn't a manifestation of his disability.

    We had contacted an advocate - who walked us through the process - and coached us on a variety of responses.

    They surprised me by agreeing whole heartedly that it was a manifestation of his disability (but naturally disagreed on whether or not services were provided). They then proceeded to "recommend" and IEP re-evaluation - claiming that the team needed more information for the purpose of educational planning and placement.

    They had a proposed testing plan included a risk assessment, Rorschach test, story telling test, and a BASC form (again) - by a psychologist of their choosing.

    We also reached out to an attorney who specializes in these issues.

    Based on his advice - we're being cooperative - but we're also denying the request for a re-evaluation. So for right now - we're at am impasse.
  10. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    a Rorschach test? Really???

    When his is annual or triennial due? If it's an annual academic testing as required by goals is all that is normally done. If it's his triennial then the question of assessments gets trickier.

    In the meantime - are you going forward with an IEP team meeting, advocate along for the ride?

    While some new assessments may be in order, if you have the $$ I would go post-haste to your nearest neuropsychologist or well qualified psychologist and have your own testing done before the school district maneuvers you into doing at least some of the testing they want by their pet pscyhologist. You can bring your own testing to the meeting if you choose to do so and possibly cut them off at the knees if that's what seems to be needed.

    Rorschach really???? I just cannot get over that one. Of course they'd love for you to agree to a projective test that is so subjectively scored. I know you are not that dumb. Can't believe they don't know that.

    It may well be that your son needs additional services or even a trial in a different placement given that this is not the first issue that's come up (based on your saying there's been previous suspensions). But it needs to be negotiated and managed in a stepwise fashion with everyone understanding the reasoning for a given approach.

    Sounds like you have a handle on things with the help of the advocates.

    Let us know how things go.

  11. PhilBob

    PhilBob Guest

    I should have posted this sooner - but here's the update.

    We rejected the testing as proposed by the school - and offered an alternative (a board certified neuropsychologist). One warning sign was that their expert was willing to change their schedule at the school district's request. We also weren't sure exactly what was being tested.

    So we met with the school - and they were all happy happy. They were concerned that we rejected their proposal - and listened to what we were proposing. We all smiled and agreed that that we would further explore difficult child's needs. They even suggested doing an FBA (which we were going to insist on).

    So we thought things were going well....

    Yesterday, we received a proposed revised IEP. From where I sit, it looks like they took everything that they wanted to find in the testing - and wrote it into the IEP without the benefit of the evaluation or IEP. They completely changed the whole basis for the IEP - and changed the services.

    Well - they decided to skip the "stepwise fashion" - and are moving to steamrolling attempt #2. Really?
  12. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Did you ever get an advocate? It sounds like you need one worse than before. If that's their "proposal", I would request mediation. That is where I am with my school district because they have been trying to force an alternative placement on us since October and I won't give in. If it weren't for my very knowledgeable (and respected by the school district) advocate, I may have given into them. Now I am more determined than ever to stick to my guns. My son deserves an education in the school district of MY choice.

    Don't let them push you into a corner unless it's a corner you want to be in.