Gavel and Law Book

PBIS and the Law

  • Federal Law

    • In January 2014, the US Department of Education published a report Guiding Principles:  A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline (external OSPI site), which states “The PBIS framework has been shown to be effective in reducing the need for disciplinary actions and improving academic, social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes for students.”  (p.7)
    • PBIS and IDEA.  In amending the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act both in 1997 and in 2004, Congress explicitly recognized the potential of PBIS to prevent exclusion and improve educational results in 20 U.S.C. § 1401(c)(5)(F):

    (5)   Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by—

    (F)       providing incentives for whole-school approaches, scientifically based early reading programs, positive behavioral interventions and supports [emphasis added], and early intervening services to reduce the need to label children as disabled in order to address the learning and behavioral needs of such children.

    • Other Legislation Recognizing PBIS:

    –20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(3)(B)(i) encourages the IEP team to consider the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for any student whose behavior impedes his or her learning or the learning of others.

    –Congress authorized using professional development funds for PBIS training.  (20 U.S.C. §§ 1464, 1465, and 1483.)

    Washington State Law

    • Several Washington state bills in recent years have addressed the educational impact of disruptive behavior. Most recently, the Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5946 (passed June 28, 2013) (external WA law site) requires that all districts adopt a practice from the Reducing Disruptive Behaviors (RDB) menu by 2016/2017.
    • In July 2015, to guide schools in their adoption of behavior practices, OSPI published a report titled Strengthening Student Educational Outcomes:  Technical Report on best Practices and Strategies for Reducing Disruptive Behavior.  This report was revised in 2017 and is available here on the OSPI site.  Both reports discussed at length support for Multitiered Systems of Supports and specifically PBIS.
    • In 2016, OSPI even has a webpage dedicated to PBIS.  This has since been incorporated into the larger concept of Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS).


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