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Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee Meetings (ARDs)

Case in Point. A new student was introduced into my elementary physical education class last week. She has "brittle bones syndrome." Just lightly touching the student can cause severe physical injuries. We use balls, jump ropes and other equipment in my class on a regular basis. Furthermore, the students run, skip and are otherwise very active in my class. Even though she has a full-time aide who takes care of her, I am worried that the student will accidentally be struck by a piece of equipment or that one of the students will bump her chair and that she will sustain serious injuries. If my students are not allowed to use equipment and participate in the lessons that I have prepared for them, the students will not be able to learn anything in my PE class. What do I do?

The Purpose of an ARD
The Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee ("ARD" Committee) determines what school district services a special education student needs to receive an "educational benefit." For short, we refer to the ARD committee meeting as an ARD. A variety of situations regarding a student’s placement and services could give rise to the need for an ARD. A list of these situations includes the following:

  • When you think that the student’s disability classification has changed.
  • When you think that a student might need to be admitted to or dismissed from special education.
  • When you think that the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) goals and objectives need to be changed.
  • When you think the student's needs change with regard to services or assistive technology devices.
  • When you think the student’s placement needs to be changed.
  • When you think that the student’s Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) needs to be changed.

Requesting an ARD
If, based on the preceding list, you think that an ARD is needed, the first step is to make a request for an ARD. The school district has a duty to create procedures that will allow you to request an ARD. You should be prepared to explain in detail why you think an ARD may be needed:

  • Articulate the problem.
  • Explain why it is a problem.
  • Explain why you think an ARD is needed to fix the problem.

District Decides that ARD is Not Necessary: Filing a Grievance
Once you make a request for an ARD, the district will make a determination as to whether an ARD is needed. Please note that the district is the only party that can require that the ARD actually be held. Nevertheless, if the district decides that an ARD is not needed, and if this somehow negatively affects your work (for example, the student’s behavior is so disruptive that you are unable to teach your class), then it might be necessary to file a grievance.

District Decides that ARD is Necessary: Providing Input
If the district determines that an ARD meeting is necessary, then the district will notify the parents, schedule the meeting, and notify the personnel who are required to attend. The next step is for you to provide input regarding the student’s placement and/or services. If you are required to attend the ARD, then you need to be prepared. Collect documentation that will be useful in discussing the student’s IEP, BIP and placement. If you have concerns, make a list of the concerns that you want to address at the ARD. Be prepared to explain the nature of the concern, any changes that you think might be needed and why you think those changes might be needed. You will likely be asked to sign ARD paperwork. In most cases you will be asked to mark a box that indicates whether you agree or disagree with the outcome of the ARD. Be honest.

If your attendance is not required at the ARD, then you still have the right to provide input. State law mandates that the district must create procedures that allow you as a teacher of the student to give input to the ARD committee. You should follow the appropriate procedures, using the guidelines provided above for providing input at the ARD itself.

The manner in which the teacher is allowed to give input will be at the district's discretion. If the district does not have procedures or otherwise indicates that it will not allow input, then a grievance might be necessary to ensure that you will have the opportunity to provide this input.

ARD Committee Does Not Adopt Recommended Changes: Filing a Grievance
Please note that all of your ideas and recommendations may not ultimately be implemented. Placement and other relevant decisions ideally should be made through the ARD committee. The district has a duty to provide necessary services that will allow the student to receive an "educational benefit." In other words, the student simply needs to make some progress. The district does not have a duty to maximize the learning potential of the special education student. Therefore, the ARD committee may ultimately determine that some services are not necessary for the student to receive an educational benefit. If the district is not meeting the expectations set out in federal law, then the parents of the special education student have the right to challenge the district’s decision.

On the other hand, if the district decides not to implement suggested changes, and if this failure somehow adversely affects your work (e.g., leaves an extremely disruptive student in your class), then a grievance might be necessary. Before filing a grievance, you should notify your principal of the problem if you have not already done so. In the course of explaining the situation to your principal, you should articulate the type and degree of hardship that you are facing. In this situation, demonstrating how the district might be out of compliance can make your case even more persuasive. This may motivate the administration to fix the problem. Even if it does not, it will at least put you in the best possible position before initiating the grievance.

The legal information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for individual legal advice or the provision of legal services. Accessing this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Individual legal situations vary greatly and readers should consult directly with an attorney. Eligible ATPE members should contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department using our online system, MLSIS.

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