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Expert Q&A

What should a parent do when their teenage son has behavioral problems that might lead to fights with other students?

My son has been diagnosed with ADHD and has been retained twice. He is now in the 10th grade and still has multiple issues with his behavior. He has a teacher that agitates him and this has been brought to the attention of several school representatives. No one has bothered to address this until he is now being suspended for three days and is being sent to an alternative school for 45 days because an associate principal was hurt after trying to hold him back after he was hit in the back of the head by another boy at his school. Another assistant principal told another one of my son’s that he heard friends of the boy who hit my oldest son that there were going to jump on both of my sons at the part later on that day. My younger son told my oldest son this news which made him even more upset.

Based on the manner in which the school handled the situation, should my son be sent to the alternative school, especially since the assistant principal was present in the ARD we had for my son when he first started attending that school? Knowing this information about my son, should he have not tried to do more to remove my son from that situation? It could have kept the associate principal from getting hurt.

If you disagree with the school’s decision to send your son to an alternative school, you have a right to request an impartial due process hearing to challenge the transfer. However, your child will be in the alternative 45 day placement while the hearing is pending. You have a right to request an expedited hearing, which means the hearing is supposed to occur within 20 days of receipt of your request. However, as a general matter, the school district’s failure to remove your son from the situation demonstrates poor judgment, but would have greater legal significance if your son’s IEP referenced this behavioral problem or had a specific procedure for dealing with it. In the future, you should try to ensure that the IEP has a behavior plan which addresses these issues and prescribes how the staff should respond if your son is having difficulty, regardless of whether he started the problem or not.

This benefits your son in two ways. First, it provides a more proactive and positive plan to help him maintain appropriate behavior. Second, it sets out the school’s responsibilities and gives you a strategic means to hold them accountable if they fail to follow the plan.

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