Manifestion Determination Reviews:

Insights from a Special Education Lawyer

As a special education lawyer, I understand the importance of clarity when it comes to the manifestation determination review (MDR) process. MDRs play a critical role in safeguarding the rights of students with disabilities and ensuring their educational journey is fair and supported. I aim to provide you with valuable insights and answer some of the most common questions people have about manifestation determination reviews.


What is a Manifestation Determination Review?

A Manifestation Determination Review is a legal process that takes place when a student with a disability faces significant disciplinary action, such as suspension or expulsion, for a behavior-related incident. Its purpose is to determine whether the student’s behavior is a direct result of their disability or if there are other contributing factors.

Who participates in an MDR?

During an MDR, a team of individuals comes together, including parents or guardians, teachers, special education professionals, administrators, and sometimes legal representatives. Each participant brings valuable insights and expertise to the table to ensure a comprehensive and fair assessment.

Manifestation Determination Review

When is an MDR required?

An MDR is required whenever a student with a disability faces disciplinary action that could result in a significant change in their educational placement. This includes situations where a student is suspended for more than ten consecutive days or expelled. It serves as a safeguard to protect the rights of students with disabilities and ensure they receive appropriate support and accommodations.

What factors are considered during an MDR?

During an MDR, the team reviews several crucial factors, including:

  • The student’s disability and whether it is linked to the behavior in question.
  • The implementation of the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan.
  • Whether the student was provided with appropriate support, accommodations, or modifications.
  • Any relevant information from parents, teachers, or professionals who work with the student.


What are the possible outcomes of an MDR?

Following a careful examination of the information, the MDR team may reach one of two conclusions:

  • The behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the student’s disability. In this case, the team reconvenes to develop or modify the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. The goal is to address the behavior effectively, provide the necessary support, and ensure the student’s success.
  • The behavior is found not to be a manifestation of the student’s disability. In such instances, the school may proceed with disciplinary actions outlined in its code of conduct. However, the student must still receive educational services during any suspension or expulsion period.

Can a student’s IEP or Section 504 plan be changed during an MDR?

Yes, absolutely! If the MDR team determines that the behavior is a manifestation of the student’s disability, it may be necessary to revise the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. This ensures that appropriate supports and interventions are in place to address the student’s needs and promote their academic and behavioral growth.

In closing:

Manifestation Determination Reviews are a vital part of the special education process, ensuring the rights of students with disabilities are protected. By understanding the purpose and intricacies of MDRs, parents, educators, and professionals can advocate effectively for students and ensure they receive the support they need. If you find yourself navigating an MDR, consider seeking guidance from a special education lawyer who can provide expert advice and assistance.

Remember, MDRs are an opportunity to advocate for students with disabilities and promote inclusive education. By working together, we can create an educational environment that supports the growth and success of every student.

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