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Manifestation determination is a test employed when a student who receives special education services is considered for suspension, expulsion or any alternative placement due to some behavioral concern. It is a process where the behavior of a student who receives special education is considered to determine if the actions that resulted in the consideration of some disciplinary action against the student were manifestations of the student's disability.
All relevant information regarding the student including their evaluation, diagnostic results, observations of the student, their Individualized Education Program and other special education services are analyzed in this process. The appropriateness of the educational program that the student was undergoing will also be reviewed to analyze and determine whether the behavior in question was a result or manifestation of the student's disability.
The Local Education Agency administration determines whether a particular student needs disciplining. The Individualized Education Program team makes the programming decisions for the disabled students who face disciplinary actions.
Once the relevant data about the students are analyzed and if the IEP team determines that the student's behavior is not related to their disability and that their educational placement as it is was appropriate, the LEA applies the relevant disciplinary procedure that is applicable to the students who do not have disabilities to the student under consideration.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004 defines manifestation determination and details the disciplinary proceedings against a student who receives special education services under 20 USCS §1415 as follows:
(E) Manifestation determination.
(i) In general. Except as provided in subparagraph (B), within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the local educational agency, the parent, and relevant members of the IEP Team (as determined by the parent and the local educational agency) shall review all relevant information in the student's file, including the child's IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents to determine--
(I) if the conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child's disability; or
(II) if the conduct in question was the direct result of the local educational agency's failure to implement the IEP.
(ii) Manifestation. If the local educational agency, the parent, and relevant members of the IEP Team determine that either subclause (I) or (II) of clause (i) is applicable for the child, the conduct shall be determined to be a manifestation of the child's disability.