Discipline means the action taken by
the school when your child breaks a school rule.
For students with disabilities, the focus should always be on addressing behavior problems early, so that they don’t recur. While students with disabilities are not exempt from discipline if they break a school rule, special education law requires schools to address behavior problems in the IEP that interfere with his or her learning or the learning of others and to look at whether a student’s misbehavior is affected by his or her disability. School rules are covered in Chapter 19.

The school can suspend your child
for ten days or less without special action.
Schools can suspend a student for up to ten days in a school year without having to take special steps and without having to provide educational services during the suspension. This might include several suspensions of several days each.

Suspensions of more than 10 days are considered a change of placement.
Parents must be notified that the school intends to suspend their child and be given a copy of their rights. Any suspensions that occur after a total of 10 days in a school year also require the IEP team to take specific steps. The 10 days refers to either consecutive (in a row) or cumulative (added up) school days. An IEP meeting must be called not later than 10 school days after the decision was made to suspend your child and place him or her in an interim alternative educational setting (IAES). An IAES is any place where your child receives educational services that is not his or her regular placement. It could be a different class in the same school, a different school or a special program in the community.

Crisis removals may or may not be a change of placement.
When students are removed from school immediately because their conduct presents a threat to their safety or others, and their removal, plus any previous days of suspension, add up to more than 10 days, it will only be considered a change of placement if: 1) the students behavior is similar to that of other suspensions and 2) the closeness of the suspensions or their length show a pattern.

The IEP team will look at how to address the behavior through
the IEP.
First, the IEP team will look at the current program to see if this behavior has been addressed. If your child’s behavior has not been formally assessed, then a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) will be done and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) developed. If your child already has a behavior plan, the IEP team will review and modify it, as necessary.

The IEP team must determine if your child’s behavior was caused by or related to his or her disability.
This is called a Manifestation Determination. If the team agrees your child’s behavior is a manifestation (demonstration) of the disability, the school must discipline him or her differently than if the behavior was not related to the disability. The Manifestation Determination process involves determining if: 1) your child’s IEP and placement were appropriate and the services and strategies were in tune with the IEP and placement at the time of the misbehavior 2) the disability affected your child’s ability to understand the impact and consequences of the behavior and 3) the disability affected your child’s ability to control his or her behavior.

If the behavior WAS related to your child’s disability, he or she may not
be suspended.
If her/his IEP or placement did not address this behavior problem, then steps must be taken immediately to put appropriate behavior supports in place. School staff will conduct or review the FBA and the BIP.

If the behavior WAS NOT related to the disability, your child may be disciplined just like any student
who breaks the rules.
However, services that help your child achieve his or her IEP goals must be provided on the eleventh school day that a student is removed from school. If he or she is placed in an interim alternative educational setting (IAES), it can not be longer than 45 calendar days.

Your child bay be sent to an IAES
for certain misbehavior.
A student may be legally removed to an IAES for not more than 45 calendar days if:

  • He or she carries or possesses a weapon to school or a school function
  • He or she possesses, uses, sells or tries to buy illegal drugs at school or a school function
  • he or she inflicts serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises or at a school function

The interim alternative educational setting must be determined by the IEP team and enable your child to progress in the general education curriculum and meet IEP goals.

If you disagree with the school over
a suspension that results in a change
in placement you may request an expedited due process hearing.
In the case of removal from school for more an 10 days, a due process hearing can be expedited or sped up, so that a hearing is held within 20 days of the date of your request, and a decision is rendered within 10 days after the hearing. A resolution session will be held within 7 days of the receipt of your hearing request to try to reach agreement prior to the hearing. If your child has been placed in an IAES, he or she will “stay put” until the hearing officer makes a decision.

Children who are not yet receiving special education services may be eligible for special consideration when they break a school rule.
If your child is not currently eligible to receive special education services, in order to receive consideration as a special education student, the parent needs to show that the school had knowledge that their child had a disability. This knowledge is assumed when: 1) the parent expressed concern to the school in writing prior to the incident that the child was in need of special education 2) the parent requested an evaluation and did not deny consent for the evaluation or services or 3) the child’s teacher or other school personnel expressed concern about his or her behavior or performance in accordance with referral procedures or, for a pattern of behavior, to supervisors.

Special Situation:
“In-school suspensions” are sometimes not counted toward the 10-day suspension rule. The deciding factor is whether or not the student’s placement has been changed. If, during the “in school” suspension, your child received the services on his or her IEP and participated with students without a disability to the same degree as in his or her regular placement, then it would not be considered a suspension for counting purposes.

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