14 Positive Behavior Support


Chapter Revision Date: 04/2015

14.1 Terminology

14.2 Addressing Behavior in the IEP Process

14.3 Interventions Listed from Least to Most Restrictive

14.4 Behavior Flow Chart

14.5 Emergency Interventions

14.6 Interventions that are prohibited by law:

The Special Education Division is committed to supporting evidence-based, proactive and culturally relevant principles of positive behavior support on individual, classroom, school and district-wide levels. Additionally, the Division is committed to providing quality educational programs that promote human dignity, respect for personal privacy, individual choices, physical freedom and social interaction for all students. It is important to recognize that actions, as well as the words that are used, and the way students are characterized, do much to determine how our students are viewed and therefore treated by others. These words and actions have the greatest impact for students with significant behavioral challenges.

PBIS is defined as a framework for enhancing the adoption and implementation of a continuum of evidence-based interventions to achieve academically, socially and behaviorally important outcomes for all students. PBIS focuses on viewing behavior as a means of communication, an understanding that there is a functional purpose for the behavior. This requires that staff go through a process to determine what need the student is attempting to meet and or what they are trying to communicate by engaging in the behavior. This requires in-depth analysis of thewhy behind behavior. The law is very clear that behavior intervention and supports must be positive, educational, proactive and effective. Strategies that are negative, exclusionary, or punitive are not acceptable.

Positive behavioral interventions require that staff take an ecological and holistic approach toward students with challenging behavior. It is critical that positive behavior supports be inter-linked with good instruction and appropriate curriculum. Collectively, these strategies are known as "positive approaches." Positive approaches require looking at problematic behavior from various perspectives including:

  • Examining all aspects of a student's life including environment, relationships, activities, goals (i.e. the whole person)
  • Getting to know the unique qualities and personal history of the student
  • Listening to the student
  • Assuming that behavior has meaning and that those behaviors communicate wants and needs
  • View undesirable behavior as a lack of skills and that desired behavior must be taught, re-taught and reinforced in order for the skills to be generalized
  • Focusing on increases in desirable behavior through reinforcement rather than decreasing undesirable behavior through punishment
  • Building skills and competencies, creating opportunities, and offering choices
  • Viewing behavior support not as a "supplement" to curriculum, but rather infused into all aspects of teaching and learning; and

Positive approaches may entail greater effort and require longer to implement, but have a more positive effect on students than negative approaches such as punishment, shame or negative consequences.

14.1 Terminology


The chart below is a summary of terms that are frequently used in developing positive behavior supports for students with IEPs or 504 plans.

"Behavior impeding learning" of student or peers Behavior that distracts the student, teacher or peers from engaging in instructional or appropriate social/recreational activities while in school, including behavior that is judged to be:disruptive assaultive self-injuriousdefiant non-responsive anti-social off-task/doing other activities
Positive Behavioral Intervention Strategies and Supports Approaches that take into consideration the "why" of the identified behavior by looking at the student in a holistic and ecological manner. It also requires the development of strategies and interventions that are pro-active in teaching appropriate replacement behaviors.
Behavior Intervention Plan-BIP . Proactive action plan to address behavior(s) that are impeding learning of the student or others. . Behavior Intervention Plans should focus on the following: - Understanding "why" the behavior occurred (i.e. the function or communicative intent) - The focus on teaching an alternative behavior that meets the student's need in a more acceptable way - Changes to the instructional and environmental - Providing reinforcement - Planning for the behavior through reactive strategies - Effective communication among the team. Must be developed by the IEP team and becomes a part of the IEP. . Is mandated to include positive behavioral strategies and supports. . Proactive action planning to address behavior(s) impeding learning. . Delineation of "positive behavioral interventions, strategies and supports." A behavior intervention plan must be developed by professionals knowledgeable about the student. A school psychologist can assist in the development; however, their assistance is not a requirement for developing a PBIP.
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) . FBA is the process of gathering and analyzing information about a student's behavior and accompanying circumstances in order to determine the purpose or intent of the actions. . This investigation is designed to help educators to determine whether changes would help the student to display more acceptable behavior. . ABA strategies used to comprehensively review and or collect new data to analyze the antecedents, behaviors and consequences (A-B-C) to determine the function of the behavior. . FBA also used to identify positive interventions that would reduce the undesirable behavior. . Requires that formal assessment procedures be followed including signed assessment plan, timelines and report. . Findings must be reported to the IEP team who develops a behavior intervention plan as indicated.
Functional Analysis Assessment (FAA) . Includes all of the same components of FBA with one distinct addition: New data is collected while manipulating interventions (i.e., implementing two or more different interventions to determine which intervention is most effective).

FBA versus FAA

. FBA is required by law when an assessment is needed to develop or modify a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). . FAA is only required if data based on new or manipulated interventions is needed. This is uncommon.
Behavioral Emergency Report ("BER") Forms/Links Report form that must be completed when an emergency intervention is used. . According to California Education Code 56521.1(a) "Emergency interventions may only be used to control unpredictable, spontaneous behavior which poses a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the individual or others or can cause serious property damage and which cannot be immediately prevented by a response less restrictive than the temporary application of a technique used to contain the behavior." Emergency intervention includes physical escort, restraint or seclusion. Refer to Emergency Interventions in section 14.5 below.

14.2 Addressing Behavior in the IEP Process


The IDEA has requirements for supporting students with disabilities who exhibit challenging behaviors. These behaviors are defined as those "behaviors impeding learning of the student or their peers." The mandated requirements include the implementation of positive behavior interventions, strategies and supports. Problematic behaviors can range from exhibiting deficits in the area of social interaction to those behaviors that are disruptive or dangerous.

If during the referral and assessment process, problematic behaviors surface as a concern, this should be considered as an area of suspected disability that must be assessed. If the IEP team then determines that behavior is an area of need, these needs must be described and noted in the Present Levels section of the IEP with subsequent goals written to address the student's needs. If the behavior is considered to be more problematic and chronic, a formalized behavior intervention plan must be developed.

Behavior interventions are required to be the least intrusive and should be acceptable in public and integrated settings.

14.3 Interventions Listed from Least to Most Restrictive


Positive Classroom and School Environment

Most students will respond to positive environments that are conducive to learning. This includes engagement in appropriate instruction, positive and frequent reinforcement, respectful interactions and feedback with peers and adults. These structures and procedures are most effective when they are implemented consistently throughout the school settings.

Informal Behavior Interventions

Students that consistently exhibit behaviors that interfere with their learning or the learning of others, or interfere with relationships with others, will need more specific interventions. These may include such interventions as behavior contracts, reinforcement systems, modifications of tasks and schedules, participation in group counseling activities, and more specific instruction in the areas of social skills and classroom or school-wide procedures.

Positive Behavior Intervention Plans

Students who are identified as students with special needs through an IEP or a 504 Plan and exhibit behavior interfering with learning for themselves or others will require a more structured intervention. This structured intervention is called a Behavior Intervention Plan. A Behavior Intervention Plan ("BIP") focuses on why the behavior is occurring and the teaching of new skills. While parent participation is encouraged in the development of a BIP, it is not required. Best practice is that the plan be presented as a draft with room for parental input. The BIP will be a part of the IEP or 504 Plan, and will be reviewed and discussed with the parent at the IEP or 504 meeting. All staff working with the student must be made aware of the BIP and the responsibility to implement it for the student's educational benefit.

A BIP can be developed by using existing data from multiple sources. A formal FBA is not always required to develop a BIP. However, if a formal FBA is needed, a signed assessment plan with parent consent is required. A formal FBA must be completed in the following situations:

  • If existing data is insufficient to develop an appropriate BIP and the team is unsure of the function of the behavior
  • Restraint occurred and Behavior Emergency Report is filed
  • Manifestation Determination

Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavioral Intervention Plan

For those students that have severe and chronic behavior problems such as those that are self-injurious, assaultive and/or cause property damage, a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is required to develop a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP). Again, the focus is on why the behavior occurs and identifies the skills that need to be taught, reinforced and monitored. This process is very extensive and requires a signed assessment plan, an evaluation, a report, an IEP team meeting and follow-up monitoring. When a student exhibits these types of chronic behaviors, decisions must be made about the type of intervention(s) required.

14.4 Behavior Flow Chart


The following flow chart assists in that decision making process from the least restrictive to most restrictive behavior interventions.


14.5 Emergency Interventions


Emergency interventions may only be used to control unpredictable, spontaneous behavior which poses a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the pupil or others or can cause serious property damage and which cannot be immediately prevented by a response less restrictive than the temporary application of a technique used to contain the behavior.

Emergency interventions may not be used as a substitute for systematic behavior intervention plans.

Emergency interventions include the use of escort, standing, seated and floor restraints as well as seclusion. According to SDUSD Policy 4907, section 4-i, whenever a behavior emergency occurs, only behavioral interventions approved by the special education local planning area (SELPA) may be used. For SDUSD, these approved guidelines/interventions are outlined in Professional Assault Crisis Training (Pro-ACT).

If an emergency intervention is used, the parent/guardian or foster care provider, if appropriate, must be notified within one (1) school day. A Behavior Emergency Report ("BER") must immediately be completed by staff and maintained in the student's file. All behavior emergency reports must immediately be forwarded to Behavior Support Resources office via fax at 858-274-3137. Forms/Links

14.5.1 Behavioral Emergency Report: Student does not have a PBIP

California Education Code 56521.1(g) describes the requirement to schedule an IEP meeting within two days after an incident for which a BER was completed for a student that does not have a PBIP. The text of the law is as follows:

If a behavioral emergency report is written regarding an individual with exceptional needs who does not have a behavioral intervention plan, the designated responsible administrator shall, within two days, schedule an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting to review the emergency report, to determine the necessity for a functional behavioral assessment, and to determine the necessity for an interim plan. The IEP team shall document thereasons for not conducting the functional behavioral assessment, not developing an interim plan, or both.

14.5.2 Behavioral Emergency Report: Student has a PBIP

California Education Code 56521.1(h) describes the requirement of the IEP team to review and determine if the PBIP must be modified due to circumstances related to the behavioral incident for which a BER was completed for a student that has a PBIP. The text of the law is as follows:

If a behavioral emergency report is written regarding an individual with exceptional needs who has a positive behavioral intervention plan, an incidentinvolving a previously unseen serious behavior problem, or where a previously designed intervention is ineffective, (it) shall be referred to the IEP team to review and determine if the incident constitutes a need to modify the positive behavioral intervention plan.

14.6 Interventions that are prohibited by law:

Emergency interventions shall not include

  1. Locked seclusion unless it is in a facility otherwise licensed or permitted by state law to use a locked room.
  2. Employment of a device, material, or objects that simultaneously immobilize all four extremities, except that techniques such as prone containment may be used as an emergency intervention by staff trained in those procedures.
  3. An amount of force that exceeds that which is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.

In addition, the district recognizes that staff is prohibited from intervening in any of the following ways:

  • Releasing noxious, toxic, or otherwise unpleasant sprays, mists, or substances close to the student's face;
  • Any intervention which denies adequate sleep, food, water, shelter, bedding, physical comfort or access to bathroom facilities;
  • Any intervention which is designed, used, or likely to subject the student to verbal abuse, ridicule or humiliation, or which can be expected to cause emotional trauma;
  • Restrictive interventions which employ a device, material or objects that simultaneously immobilize all four extremities, including the use of therapeutic support equipment or the procedure known as prone containment (however, prone containment may be used by trained personnel as a limited emergency intervention):
  • Locked seclusion; or
  • Any intervention that precludes adequate supervision of the student or any intervention which deprives the student of one or more of his/her senses.


Contact and Location:

Behavior Support Resources

3401 Clairemont Drive B-24

San Diego, CA 92123

858-490-2770 x2403