A functional behavior assessment, or FBA, is a tool to gather information about a student’s inappropriate or problem behavior to understand why a student engages in the behavior. Once an IEP team understands why the student is engaging in the behavior, the team can develop a behavior intervention plan, or BIP, to address the behavior. An IEP team might recommend a functional behavior assessment be conducted anytime there is a concern about a student’s behavior.
The disciplinary provisions of the IDEA, however, require that when a student with a disability is removed for misconduct for more than ten consecutive school days, the student must receive, as appropriate, a functional behavior assessment. Moreover, if the student’s misconduct is determined to be a manifestation of the student’s disability, then the IEP team must conduct a functional behavior assessment, unless the FBA had already been done before the student engaged in the misconduct. Some school districts have questioned whether parent consent is required before conducting a functional behavioral assessment and whether an FBA triggers the IDEA procedural safeguards that apply to evaluations and an independent educational evaluation (IEE).
The Office of Special Education Programs says the answer is “Yes” parental consent is required before a school conducts an FBA and parents have the same IEE rights regarding a functional behavior assessment as they do other evaluations. In a February 2007 letter, Alex Posny, the Director of the Federal Office of Special Education Programs, states that:
If an FBA is used to evaluate an individual child in accordance with 34 CFR §§300.304 through 300.311 to assist in determining whether the child is a child with a disability and the nature and extent of special education and related services that the child needs, it is considered an evaluation under Part B and the regulation at 34 CFR §300.15. Parental consent, consistent with 34 CFR §300.300(a) and (b), is required for an FBA conducted as an individual evaluation or reevaluation. If the FBA is conducted for individual evaluative purposes to develop or modify a behavioral intervention plan for a particular child, under 34 CFR §300.502, a parent who disagrees with the child’s FBA would have the right to request an IEE at public expense.
*Note that the Individuals with Disabilities Law Reporter cite is Letter to Christiansen 48 IDELR 161 (OSEP 2007).
So, at least according to the U.S. Department of Education, an FBA requires parental consent and parents have the right to obtain an independent functional behavior assessment if the parents question the FBA conducted by the school.