Manifestation Determination Review Hearing (MDR)
Often times a child with a diagnosed or undiagnosed behavioral based disability may face a school-initiated expulsion hearing due to a child’s challenging behavior. The challenging behavior in question may include student code of conduct violations, as well as potential criminal violations and police involvement, depending on the severity of the alleged conduct.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts are legally required to conduct what is known as a “Manifestation Determine Review” or “MDR Hearing” to determine whether the child’s alleged behavior that violated the school district’s code of conduct is related to the child’s disability.
What is a Manifestation Determination Review Hearing?
When a student with a disability allegedly violates a school code of conduct, a manifestation determination is used to determine whether the student should face disciplinary proceedings or have their school placement reviewed. To make a proper decision, the school district will gather and assess information regarding your child’s behavior, including teacher observations, previous evaluations, medical diagnoses, and the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan.
The IEP team must answer these two questions:
- Was the conduct caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child’s disability?
- Was the conduct the direct result of the school’s failure to implement the IEP?
After the manifestation determination review hearing, the IEP team will determine whether the misconduct resulted from a manifestation of the child’s disability. If it’s not, the school can expel or suspend the student without considering the disability. Conversely, if the child’s behavior is a manifestation of the child’s disability, then additional behavioral based supports and interventions must be provided.
The MDR hearing must be held within ten school days of the alleged conduct, leaving very little time for a family to fully prepare a defense, much less prevent their child from getting expelled from school, which may often be up to one entire academic school year. Similarly, “stipulated expulsion agreements” offered by a school district in lieu of a MDR and/or expulsion hearing often will fall short of fully protecting your child’s educational rights.
At Forte Law Group, we recognize how stressful this process can be for parents of children with a disability. We immediately guide and thoroughly represent families through the entire manifestation determination process, provide expulsion and/or juvenile defense when necessary, and advocate for the child’s best possible outcome based on the factual, clinical and legal circumstances.
When to Hire a Manifestation Determination Attorney
If you feel your child is receiving unfair discipline at school, legal representation can help you immediately protect your child’s rights to a fair and equal education. Manifestation determinations require tremendous attention to detail and experience. A special education attorney can review your child’s alleged conduct, their previous evaluations, their IEP, their 504 plan, and any other relevant information to ensure that his or her interests are spoken for.
Many parents feel alone when facing a manifestation determination. You do not have to face the school district alone. At Forte Law Group, our Connecticut special education attorneys have tenured special education experience and knowledge you need to address each of the school district’s concerns and make sure your child is appropriately placed and educated.
The Right to Legal Representation
As a parent, you have the ability to hire a special education attorney to represent your child in manifestation determination hearings. If you do hire an attorney, you will be responsible for selecting your attorney and paying for their services – the school district does not provide an attorney for you. You will also need to inform the school district in advance of your plan to be represented, as most districts require your attorney to be present during the meeting.
If you’re looking for an experienced special education attorney in the Connecticut area, contact Forte Law firm. We strive to provide exceptional and compassionate legal representation for students with special needs throughout the state.
We understand that your child’s case presents unique challenges, so we work hard to provide individualized legal services to ensure you and your child receive the support you need during the meetings, hearings, and proceedings.
Need Legal Representation for Your Special Needs Child? We Can Help
Are you searching for a qualified Connecticut special education attorney? If so, then you are in the right place. At Forte Law Group, we are committed to empowering parents and ensuring the best legal representation for students with special needs.
Our legal team, led by special education attorney and certified child advocate, Jeff Forte, has extensive experience fighting for the rights of children with special needs across Connecticut. Call us now at (203) 257-7999 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.