What is a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR)?

When a child with a disability engages in behavior or breaks a code of conduct and the school proposes to remove the child, the school must hold a hearing to determine if the child’s behavior was caused by his disability. This hearing, a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR), is a process to review all relevant information and the relationship between the child’s disability and the behavior.

Consequences for problem behaviors should not discriminate against a child based on his disability. Yet, schools continue to suspend and expel students with disabilities for behavior caused by their disabilities.

Based on practical experience, Attorney Bill Brownley provides a “how to” guide attorneys (and parents) can use during the review to determine if the child’s conduct was “caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability.” (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, p. 264). This guide describes how strategy, preparation, and documentation demonstrate a connection between the behavior and the disability, keeping the issue out of the hands of the school’s disciplinary officer.

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Rethinking Discipline

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a new resource section on their website called Rethinking Discipline

Teachers and students deserve school environments that are safe, supportive, and conducive to teaching and learning. Creating a supportive school climate—and decreasing suspensions and expulsions—requires close attention to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all students.

Administrators, educators, students, parents and community members that visit Rethinking Discipline can find tools, data and resources to:

  • Increase their awareness of the prevalence, impact, and legal implications of suspension and expulsion;
  • Find basic information and resources on effective alternatives; and
  • Join a national conversation on how to effectively create positive school climates.

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