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Recent Legal Decisions Related to Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) Heidi von Ravensberg, J.D. Tary Tobin, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Recent Legal Decisions Related to Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) Heidi von Ravensberg, J.D. Tary Tobin, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Recent Legal Decisions Related to Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) Heidi von Ravensberg, J.D. Tary Tobin, Ph.D. University of Oregon 2/28/20141NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR

2 Use of functional behavioral assessments in ways that help prevent and avoid legal troubles Review of Recent Legal Decisions on FBA Review of Recent Advances in Use of FBA as Reported in Education/Psychology Journals Comparison of Results from the Searches 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR2

3 Focus on: Factors related to schools being drawn into lawsuits Characteristics of cases won (and lost) Distinctions between "best practice" and legal requirements Tips on Preventing Lawsuits Practices, Records, and Other Evidence to Defend Against a Lawsuit 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR3

4 We wanted to see what federal courts were saying about FBA with respect to: Identifying students’ disabilities and related special education needs -- as indicated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Whether an FBA was conducted Outcomes on the FBA rulings 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR4

5 Federal legal decisions in lawsuits related to functional behavioral assessments Used the Westlaw "all federal cases" database From 8/13/2011-8/13/2013 Search: "functional behavioral assessment" or FBA and IDEA 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR5

6 Most cases arose in NY with 12 other states represented: AL, AZ, DE, IL, IN, KS, MA, ME, MO, PA, RI, TX 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR6

7 Results 27 cases dropped for not meeting criteria 30 cases are U.S. District Court 7 cases are U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: 2 nd Cir (NY, 3) 3 rd Cir. (PA, 1) 5 th Cir. (TX, 2) 8 th Cir. (NE, 1) 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR7

8 Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria: Decision must contain a ruling on an FBA issue The ruling on the FBA was the final adjudication Did not include New York because it has unusual state regulations for FBA compared to federal regulations and other states. 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR8

9 Diagnoses/Classifications Autism – most common Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Emotionally Disturbed (ED) Down Syndrome Many had multiple disabilities 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR9

10 8 factors related to schools being drawn into lawsuits 1.Student has autism and/or multiple disabilities 2.Student has deficits in communication, social skills and/or academics 3.Student’s problem behavior is ongoing, unresolved and interferes with academics or others 4.Parent disputes school’s disability diagnoses and/or classification(s) 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR10

11 5.Parent and school dispute best way to meet student’s needs 6.Parent perceives child not making academic progress 7.School does not conduct an FBA 8.The FBA conducted did not stop the problem behavior or lead to better grades 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR11

12 Characteristics and Examples of Cases Won (and Lost) 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR12

13 For Ruling in Favor of Parent School did not conduct an FBA Student’s interfering behaviors went unresolved despite efforts of school Student’s grades suffered Parent wanted an FBA 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR13

14 Examples of Cases with Ruling in Favor of Parent 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR14

15 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR15 Case Highlights No FBA Conducted / Outcome in Favor of Parents Bd. of Ed. of Evanston-Skokie Community Consol. Sch. Dist. 65 v. Risen, 2013 WL (N.D. Ill.) (U.S. Dist. Ct. Ill., 2013): Male, 9-year-old, 2 nd grader, Born prematurely; mild delays in articulation abilities; gross motor delays; educational delays in socialization, play, and self-care Issue: Dispute focused on the scope of information that school district should consider in assessing child's behavior. School’s Position: Instead of considering reports based on student’s behavior at prior schools, it intended to wait and observe his behavior once he was in its classroom. Held: Contrary to the School District's argument, there was ample pre-existing evidence that student’s behavior would impede his learning or the learning of others. Therefore, the School District failed to perform a proper FBA when it concluded in its IEP that student’s behavior did not impede his learning or the learning of others, despite his long history of behavior problems at other schools.

16 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR16 No FBA Conducted / Outcome in Favor of Parents Coleman v. Pottstown Sch. Dist., 2012 WL (E.D. Pa., Feb. 22, 2012) (U.S. Dist. Ct., Pa., 2012): Male, 18-year-old, LD from TBI; at age 8 was hit in the head with a lead pipe Parent’s Position: The Court should consider certain records because they are relevant and were previously unavailable to parents. Parents said records showed student had significant deficiencies and emotional difficulties that tend to show that the school district erroneously failed to conduct an FBA, train school personnel, and provide sufficient psychological therapy and counseling services. Held: Granted parents right to supplement the record with the school district’s behavior and discipline records. They provided information that student was generally off task, engaged in excessive talking, interrupted teachers, had attention issues, refused to do work, was disruptive and disrespectful to teachers, slept in class, and refused to cooperate. Despite school district’s insistence that these records were irrelevant, parents didn’t have access to them before the hearing, nor could they refer to them during their testimony because they did not have personal knowledge of all of the behaviors occurring at school as opposed to at home. Furthermore, even though the school district insisted that the Hearing Officer was well aware that the Student engaged in all of these behaviors, it appears that the documentation of the types of behaviors student was engaging in at school went beyond the types of behaviors discussed in the hearing.

17 For Ruling in Favor of School FBA was conducted Student’s interfering behaviors diminished or changed Student made some academic progress FBA was documented FBA was basis of the Behavior Support Plan (BSP) BSP was included in Individualized Education Program (IEP) IEP identified interfering behaviors and gave strategies to address them 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR17

18 Examples of Cases with Ruling in Favor of School 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR18

19 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR19 Federal Case Highlights FBA Conducted / Outcome in Favor of School Districts R.C. v. Keller Indep. Sch. Dist., (U.S. Dist. Ct., Tex. 2013): Male, repeated 11 th grade History of multiple diagnoses; ongoing dispute if ED or Asperger's Issue: Whether student’s IEP was appropriately individualized for him where parents disagreed with the conclusions of the “IEP team,” some of the content of the IEPs, or the eligibility category. Held: Yes. During the 5 years student attended school district, he had a number of evaluations performed, or funded, by district including Formal FBA. All evaluations employed various assessment tools and gathered information from variety of sources including student, his parents, teachers, evaluators, physicians, and psychologists, and tests that were conducted were recognized as valid and appropriate for evaluating student's disabilities and were performed by qualified personnel and according to instructions provided by tests’ creators. R.C. v. Keller Indep. School Dist., 2013 WL (N.D. Tex., July 31, 2013).

20 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR20 FBA Conducted / Outcome in Favor of School Districts H.D. v. Central Bucks Sch. Dist. (U.S. Dist. Ct., Pa. 2012): Male, 4 th grade ADHD Issue: Whether, among other things, school district’s FBA denied student FAPE. Held: No. Student's IEP offered FAPE. The District made extraordinary efforts to shape an education program to allow student to progress in both his academic and behavioral performance. Revisions to his IEP were made to reflect the observations and data showing which interventions were and were not succeeding, with unsuccessful interventions and supports removed and successful ones retained. An FBA by a board certified associate behavioral analyst was conducted and incorporated into the IEPs. Although these revisions led to academic progress, the various behavioral interventions reasonably available were not producing lasting improvement in student’s serious behavior problems or assisting him in developing appropriate social skills. The IEP's SDI, behavior plan, and placement of student in itinerant emotional support provided a reasonable next step in maintaining his academic progress. HD v. Central Bucks School Dist., 902 F.Supp.2d 614 (E.D. Pa., Sept. 28, 2012).

21 Recent “Best Practice” Use of FBA as Reported in Education/Psychology Journals 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR21

22 First, what is FBA? 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR22

23 “Functional behavioral assessment is a process of identifying specific environmental factors that have an influence on when a particular behavior will occur.... used to plan positive ways to prevent or manage behavior problems” (Tobin, 2005, p. 3, ). 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR23

24 Different Ways of Doing FBA Experimental: Functional Analysis Experimenter compares rates of problem behavior when followed by different types of reinforcers, such as attention, tangible, escape, or automatic (Iwata, Dorsey, Slifer, Bauman, & Richman, 1982, 1994) May produce false positives if not based on reinforcers from natural environment (Rooker, Iwata, Harper, Fahmie, & Camp, 2011) 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR24

25 Descriptive: “In most educational settings, information for FBAs is gathered using... interviews with parents, teachers, and children... and observation worksheets that reflect a running narrative of antecedents, behaviors and consequences (ABCs) (Bijou et al. 1968) in natural settings” (Alter, Conroy, Mancil, & Haydon, 2008, p.201). 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR25

26 Emphasis on Teacher Training / Teachers Involved Importance of teacher training (Bambara, Goh, Kern, & Caskie, 2012; Debnam, Pas & Bradshaw, 2012; Duncan, Dufreme, Sterling, & Tingstrom, 2013; Kunnavatana, Bloom, Samaha, & Dayton, 2013; Massé, Couture, Levesque, & Bigén, 2013 ; Pence, St. Peter, & Giles, 2014; Stoiber & Gettinger, 2011) Gardner, Spencer, Boelter, DuBard, & Jennett (2012) found “sufficient evidence to support the involvement of teachers and parents in the BFA [Brief Functional Assessment] procedures” (p. 327). 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR26

27 Loman & Horner (2014) trained school professionals other than teachers (e.g., counselors, administrators, specialists) to conduct a basic FBA using a manual that is available online: ations/TrainerManual.pdf ations/TrainerManual.pdf 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR27

28 Goh & Bambara (2012): “ Team decision making during intervention planning yielded statistically significantly larger effect sizes when compared to intervention studies where team decision making was absent during intervention planning” (p. 280). Reports of specific cases detailing the use of FBA to plan and implement successful BSP, for example: 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR28

29 Janney, Umbreit, Ferro, Liaupsin, & Lane (2013) found that “a function-matched extinction procedure is a critical component in function-based intervention” (p. 120). In this study, extinction included reducing teacher attention to disruptive behavior. Materials used included: Functional Assessment and Motivation Interview/Questionnaire (Janney, 2008), Function Matrix (Umbreit, Ferro, Liaupsin, & Lane, 2007), and Decision Model (Umbreit et al., 2007). 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR29

30 Reeves, L. M., Umbreit, J., Ferro, J. B., & Liaupsin, C. J. (2013). Function-based intervention to support the inclusion of students with autism. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 48, /28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR30

31 Whitford, Liaupsin, Umbreit, & Ferro (2013) High school student with learning disabilities and ADHD Problem behavior in 3 classrooms addressed! Team included parent, 3 general education teachers, special education teacher, and researcher. A comprehensive intervention included changes in teachers’ behaviors -- increased use of praise, escape- extinction, and: “Evan’s teachers agreed to walk amongst the students during instructional periods and student independent work time to ensure that all students, including Evan, remained on-task” (p. 157). 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR31

32 Catagnus, R. M., & Hantula, D. A. (2011). The Virtual Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team: Using online collaboration to develop a behavior intervention plan. International Journal of e- Collaboration, 7(1), /28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR32

33 ISIS-SWIS A decision system for students requiring more intensive and individualized supports for academic, social, or mental health services.

34 Student File Guiding Questions Are we implementing Carly’s plan? What data, measures, and documents do we have readily available? Who are the members of Carly’s team? What questions do we have regarding the progress of the plan? What data might we look at next?

35 Report Type: Measure Guiding Questions How is the student performing in relation to the outcome goal? What are the trends, peaks and patterns? What are the next steps? How do these data compare to fidelity and other outcome data?

36 A Comparison of the Legal and Education/Psychology Study Results 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR36

37 Distinctions between "best practice" and legal requirements 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR37

38 Federal IDEA Legal Requirements Fail to explain the purpose of the FBA Fail to define FBA Fail to provide a standard for how schools are to conduct FBAs Fails to say FBA is foundational to a BSP School must conduct FBA for certain disciplinary removals School must provide PBIS but FBA not specifically mentioned 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR38

39 Best Practices Properly identify students’ disabilities and needs Conduct FBA when student’s behaviors put him/her at risk for poor academic performance or discipline Document, document, document! Make use of current standards and practices as provided by the PBIS Center 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR39

40 Helpful Practices, Records, and Other Evidence to Prevent or Defend Against a Lawsuit Use the Individual Student Information System (ISIS) and the School Wide Information System (SWIS) to document (see Get information about ISIS/SWIS ready, certified, etc. at Listen to the ISIS/SWIS videos at https://www.pbisapps.org/Resources/Pages/ISIS- SWIS-Introduction.aspx https://www.pbisapps.org/Resources/Pages/ISIS- SWIS-Introduction.aspx 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR40

41 Summary Lawsuits in which FBA was an issue often involved students with autism, ADHD, and/or multiple disabilities – and problems in school. If school has records showing it used an FBA as the basis for a Behavior Support Plan, the outcome of a lawsuit is likely to be in favor of the school. “Best Practice” FBAs may reduce problem behaviors and prevent lawsuits. 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR41

42 COMMENTS? QUESTIONS? 42

43 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR43 “Best Practices” in Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA): Recommended Reading Alter, P. J., Conroy, M. A., Mancil, G. R., & Haydon, T. (2008). A comparison of functional behavior assessment methodologies with young children: Descriptive methods and functional analysis. Journal of Behavioral Education, 17, Bambara, L. M., Goh, A., Kern, L., & Caskie, G. (2012). Perceived barriers and enablers to implementing individualized positive behavior interventions and supports in school settings. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14, Bijou, S. W., Peterson, R. F., Ault, M. H. (1968). A method to integrate descriptive and experimental field studies at the level of data and empirical concepts. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 175–191. Borgmeier, C., & Horner, R. H. (2006). An evaluation of the predictive validity of confidence ratings in identifying accurate functional behavioral assessment hypothesis statements. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 8, 100–105. Catagnus, R. M., & Hantula, D. A. (2011). The Virtual Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team: Using online collaboration to develop a behavior intervention plan. International Journal of e-Collaboration, 7(1), Debnam, K. J., Pas, E. T., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2012). Secondary and tertiary support systems in schools implementing school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports: A preliminary descriptive analysis. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14,

44 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR44 Dunlap, G., Iovannone, R., Kincaid, D., Wilson, K., Christiansen, K., Strain, P., & English, C. (2010). Prevent Teach Reinforce--The school-based model of individualized positive behavior support. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Co. Falcomata, T. S., Muething, C. S., Gainey, S., Hoffman, K., & Fragale, C. (2013). Further evaluations of functional communication training and chained schedules of reinforcement to treat multiple functions of challenging behavior. Behavior Modification, 37, Fienup, D. M., Luiselli, J. K., Joy, M., Smyth, D., & Stein, R. (2013). Functional assessment and intervention for organizational behavior change: Improving timeliness of staff meetings at a human service organization. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 33, Gardner, A. W., Spencer, T. D., Boelter, E. W., DuBard, M., & Jennett, H. K. (2012). A systematic review of brief functional analysis methodology with typically developing children. Education and Treatment of Children, 35, Gerardo, M. (2010). No need to count to ten: Advocating for the early implementation of the functional behavioural assessment in addressing challenging behaviours. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 15(1), doi: / / Goh, A. E., & Bambara, L. M. (2012). Individualized positive behavior support in school settings: A meta-analysis. Remedial and Special Education,33, Johnston, S. S., & O’Neill R. E. (2001). Searching for effectiveness and efficiency in conducting functional assessments: A review and proposed process for teachers and other practitioners. Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, 16, 205–215.

45 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR45 Hanley, G. P., Iwata, B. A., & McCord, B. E. (2003). Functional analysis of problem behavior : A review. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36, Herman, K. C., Tiley-Tillman, C., & Reinke, W. M. (2012). The role of assessment in a prevention science framework. School Psychology Review, 41, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 2004, 11 Stat. 37 U.S.C. Section [See ]http://idea.ed.gov/ Iwata, B. A., Dorsey, M. F., Slifer, K. J., Bauman, K. E., & Richman, G. S. (1982). Toward a functional analysis of self-injury. Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, 2, Iwata, B. A., Dorsey, M. F., Slifer, K. J., Bauman, K. E., & Richman, G. S. (1994). Toward a functional analysis of self injury. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27, 197–209. Janney, D. M. (2008). Functional Assessment and Motivation Interview/Questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript, University of Arizona, Tucson. [Contact ] Janney, D. M., Ubreit, J., Ferro, J. B., Liaupsin, C. J., & Lane, K. L. (2013). The effect of the extinction procedure in function-based intervention. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions,15, Kearney, C. A., & Graczyk, P. (2014). A response to intervention model to promote school attendance and decrease school absenteeism. Child Youth Care Forum, 43, 1-25.

46 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR46 Kowlowski, A. M., & Matson, J. L. (2012). Interview and observation methods in functional assessment. In J. L. Matson (Ed.), Functional Assessment for Challenging Behaviors (pp , Chapter 7), Autism and Child Psychopathology Series. Philadelphia, PA: Springer Science + Business Media, LLC. Kunnavatana, S. S., Bloom, S. E., Smaha, A. L., & Dayton, E. (2013). Training teachers to conduct trial-based functional analysis. Behavior Modification, 37, Lanovaz, M. J., Argumedes, M., Roy, D., Duquette, J. R., & Watkins, N. (2013). Using ABC narrative recording to identify the function of problem behavior: A pilot study. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34, Loman, S. L., & Horner, R. H. (2014). Examining the efficacy of a basic functional behavioral assessment training package for school personnel. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 16, Lydon, S., Healy, O., O'Reilly, M., & McCoy, A. (2013). A systematic review and evaluation of response redirection as a treatment for challenging behavior in individuals with developmental disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34, Massé, L., Couture, C., Levesque, V., & Bigén, J. (2013). Impact of a school consulting programme aimed at helping teachers intergrate students with behavioural difficulties into secondary school: Actors' points of view. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 18, Miller, F. G., & Lee, D. L. (2013). Do functional behavioral assessments improve intervention effectiveness for students diagnosed with ADHD? A single-subject meta- analysis. Journal of Behavioral Education, 22,

47 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR47 Nahgahgwon, K. N., Umbreit, J., Liaupsin, C. J., & Turton, A. M. (2010). Function-based planning for young children at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. Education and Treatment of Children, 33(4), O’Neill, R. E., Albin, R. W., Storey, K., Horner, R. H., & Sprague, J. R. (2015). Functional assessment and program development for problem behavior: A practical handbook, 3 rd Ed. Independence, KY: Cengage Learning. [Available NOW in a variety of formats (paperback, e-book, e-chapter, and rental) from Centgage Brain: ] Pence, S. T., St. Peter, C. C., & Giles, A. F. (2014). Teacher acquisition of functional analysis methods using pyramidal training. Journal of Behavioral Education, 23, Reeves, L. M., Umbreit, J., Ferro, J. B., & Liaupsin, C. J. (2013). Function-based intervention to support the inclusion of students with autism. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 48, Rooker, G. W., Iwata, B. A., Harper, J. M., Fahmie, T. A., & Camp, E. M. (2011). False- positive tangible outcomes of functional analyses. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44,

48 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR48 Spear, C. F., Strickland-Cohen, M. K., Romer, N., & Albin, R. W. (2013). An examination of social validity within single-case research with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Remedial and Special Education, 34, Stoiber, K. C., & Gettinger, M. (2011). Functional assessment and positive support strategies for promoting resilience: Effects on teachers and high-risk children. Psychology in the Schools, 48, Thodoridou, Z., & Koutsoklenis, A. (2013). Functional behavioral assessment for a boy with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 39(1), Tobin, T. J. (2005). Parents’ guide to functional assessment, 3rd Ed. University of Oregon, College of Education, Educational and Community Supports, Eugene. Retrieved from Touchette, P. E., MacDonald, R. F., & Langer, S. N. (1985). A scatter plot for identifying stimulus control of problem behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 18, 343– 351. Trahan, M. A., & Worsdell, A. S. (2011). Effectiveness of an instructional DVD in training college students to implement functional analyses. Behavioral Interventions, 26,

49 2/28/2014NWPBIS Conference, Portland, OR49 Umbreit, J., Ferro, J., Liaupsin, C., & Lane, K. (2007). Functional behavioral assessment and function-based intervention: An effective, practical approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Whitford, D. K., Liaupsin, C. J., Umbreit, J., & Ferro, J. B. (2013). Implementation of a single comprehensive function-based intervention across multiple classrooms for a high school student. Education and Treatment of Children, 36, Zirkel, P. A. (2011, Fall). Case law for functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans: An empirical analysis. Seattle University Law Review, 35 (175). Retrieved from ulr ulr Zirkel, P. A. (2013). Special education hearing officers: Balance and bias. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 24,


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