Special Education And Student Discipline Lawyers
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Are the Rules for Student Discipline Different for Students with Disabilities?
In cases of minor disciplinary measures, such as time-outs, detentions, and short-term (less than 10 days) suspensions, students with disabilities generally are treated the same as any other student. However, in cases of long-term suspension, or expulsion, students with disabilities are offered much more protection.
How Are Students in Special Education Treated Differently in Expulsion Cases?
Students with special education are offered greater protection under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order to keep them in school. Some of the protective measures offered by IDEA include:
- The student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) must address any behavioral problems that may affect the student's education and also include alternative ways to deal with these problems aside from the standard disciplinary measures of suspension and expulsion.
- The school must also prepare a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) that evaluates when the student's behavior problems are most likely to occur, what environment the behavior is likely to occur in, and why the behavior occurs. The school must then prepare a behavioral intervention plan that addresses the behavior problems and implements ways of dealing with them.
- If a student with a disability faces a long-term suspension (greater than 10 days) or expulsion, the school must first hold an IEP meeting.
- The law ensures that even if a student with a disability is expelled or suspended, he will have access to a free and appropriate public education.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Protection Granted to Students with Disabilities?
Yes, there are three cases in which the school can impose a change in placement (long-term suspension or expulsion) without a parent's consent:
- The student brings a weapon to school, or uses, sells, or solicits illegal drugs at school or during school activities
- The student's behavior was in no way caused by or related to his disability - this determination must be made by the IEP team
- The district requests a due process hearing and proves by substantial evidence that the student is a threat to himself or others
My Student is Not Yet Eligible for Special Education, but Suffers from a Disability; Is He Eligible for Special Protection?
A student who has not yet been found eligible for special education may be eligible for special protection if the school had knowledge of the student's disability before the incident took place.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you have questions about how disciplinary procedures apply to students with disabilities, you may want to contact a lawyer who is experienced in education and schools, or in disability law. A lawyer will be able to explain you or your child's rights under IDEA, and guide you through any administrative procedures that may be necessary to protect the rights of you or your child.
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Last Modified: 11-30-2011 04:32 PM PST
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