SUSPENSIONS/EXPULSIONS – SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS
In implementing disciplinary procedures for special education students, the following format is recommended.
- Determine precisely the nature of misconduct in determining to the extent possible whether the student in fact engaged in the misconduct.
- Determine whether the student’s disability caused the misconduct that has violated a school policy or rule. This determination should be made by a group of individuals knowledgeable about the student and the disability. This group would include the student’s designated IEP team and Responsibility Teacher.
- The role of the team is to determine whether there is direct and substantial relationship between the misconduct and the disability.
If it is determined there is no direct and substantial relationship between the misconduct and the disability, the school district can generally discipline the student receiving special education services as it would a general education student.
If the misconduct is related to the disability, the IEP team must review the student’s placement to determine whether it is still an appropriate placement.
The principal or designee may suspend a special education student out of school for a period not to exceed ten (10) school days providing the discipline behavior has not been identified in the IEP. The school district will conduct a functional behavioral assessment and the IEP team must implement a behavior intervention plan.
Suspension (not to exceed a total of 10 days per year) does not constitute a formal change in placement for a student with disabilities. All regular education procedural safeguards apply to students with disabilities when a short-term suspension is being considered.
A special education student who brings a firearm or controlled substance to school can be unilaterally suspended for up to 45 days without violating the IDEA.
The following due process procedures shall be followed when suspending a special education student:
- The principal or designee may recommend suspension of a student only after conducting a meeting with the student. A third party not directly involved in the issue of concern, such as a special education teacher, AEA support personnel, or counselor should be present at this meeting. At this time, the student is given:
- oral or written notification of the allegations against the student
- an oral or written statement of the evidence supporting the allegations against the student
- an opportunity for the student to respond to those allegations by explaining his/her side of the story
- The principal or designee shall notify the central office of the suspension.
- The principal or designee shall give immediate notice of the suspension to the student’s parents/guardians. Such notice may be given orally or in writing. If oral notice is given, written notice will follow within 24 hours, being mailed with a return receipt for proof of mailing.
- Notice shall also be given to the parent/guardians outlined above unless the student has reached the age of 18 and can show that they are no longer dependent upon or residing with their parents/guardians.
- During the student’s suspension, the principal or designee will arrange a meeting among the student’s parents/guardians, special education personnel, and the student, if deemed necessary. The purpose of this meeting shall be to discuss the student’s suspension, review the student’s IEP and develop or modify a behavior management plan for the student’s IEP, if necessary.
- Nothing shall prevent the immediate suspension of a student when that student poses a danger to self or others, or substantially interferes with the proper functioning of the school. The following steps shall be followed.
- The principal or designee may suspend a student in an emergency situation by giving oral reason for suspension and giving the student an opportunity to respond to the allegations, if appropriate.
- The principal or principal’s designee shall give immediate oral notification to the student’s parents/guardians and central administration. Written notification shall be provided within 24 hours to the same parties, being mailed with a receipt for proof of mailing.
- During the student’s suspension, the principal or designee will arrange a meeting among the student’s parents/guardians, the principal or designee, the student’s teacher(s), special education personnel and, if appropriate, the student. The purpose of this meeting shall be to discuss the student’s suspension, review the appropriateness of the student’s IEP, and develop or modify a behavior plan for the student’s IEP, if necessary. The plan shall address the misconduct or behavior through behavior strategies and planned disciplinary procedures, if necessary. The student will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations by explaining his/her side of the story.
- If the student with a disability poses an immediate threat and is substantially likely to injure self or others in the student’s regular placement but the school is unable to obtain agreement of the student’s parents/guardians to an interim alternate educational placement, the school may seek injunctive relief under 20 U.S.C. Code 1415(e)(2).
Any long-term disciplinary measure does constitute a change of placement thereby necessitating the procedure safeguards provided under P.L. 94-142. Those procedural safeguards include:
- the opportunity for parents of a disabled child to examine records relevant to evaluation and placement of their child
- a determination by a trained multi-disciplinary team as to whether the misconduct was related to the disability
- consideration of alternative placement
- written notice to parents/guardians prior to a change in placement
- the opportunity for parents/guardians to initiate an impartial due process hearing relating to their child’s evaluation or placement
- review by the state educational agency
- an opportunity for parents/guardians to bring a civil action in federal district court
- If the student with a disability poses an immediate threat and is substantially likely to injure self or others in the student’s regular placement, but the school is unable to obtain agreement of the student’s parents/guardians to an interim alternate educational placement, the school may seek injunctive relief under 20 U.S.C. Code 1415 (e) (2).
The total cessation of special education services by a principal or designee to a student with disabilities is illegal. An alternative educational setting available for students with disabilities who constantly disrupt the education program may include itinerant home placement.
A recommendation for itinerant home placement may be made by the IEP team. Such an option should be of specified short-term duration with specified goals and objectives in mind that are to be accomplished. The program must be reviewed by the diagnostic-educational team, including the parents/guardians, at least every 30 calendar days to discuss program appropriateness and other alternatives.
Other situations may arise in which residential treatment is seen as a necessary provision in order to meet the special education needs of a given pupil. The doctrine of least restrictive environment is critical when considering such an alternative. A diagnostic team must verify the hypothesis that the only appropriate special education program for such a student with disabilities is found within a residential setting.
LEGAL REF: Iowa Code 290.1; Honig v. Doe 98L.Ed.2d 686 (U.S.S. Ct. 1988)
Procedures for Expulsion
All due process procedures that apply to regular education students apply to special education students receiving special education services.
- The principal or designee may recommend expulsion of a student only after conducting an informal meeting with the student. A third party not directly involved in the issue of concern, such as the special education teacher, AEA support personnel, or counselor shall be present at this informal meeting. At this time the student is given:
- oral or written notice of the allegations against the student
- an oral or written statement of the evidence supporting the allegations against the student
- the opportunity for the student to respond to those allegations by explaining his/her side of the story
- Determine whether the student has violated a school policy or rule, causing the misconduct.
- An IEP team should determine whether the student’s misconduct is caused by the student’s disability or whether the misconduct is the result of inappropriate placement. Discussions and conclusions of this meeting should be recorded.
The IEP team shall meet to determine:
- if the misconduct is related to the students’ disability, the student may NOT be expelled.
- the appropriateness of the student’s current IEP
- the appropriateness of the student’s current program
- whether an alternative program/service can be provided that will meet the educational needs of the student
- whether additional information is needed and a re-evaluation is required
- The responsibility of the IEP team is to provide an objective report to the superintendent or his/her designee for presentation to the Board. This report will outline various options to assist the district in developing a final recommendation to the Board of Education. A final report of recommendation will be sent to the AEA Director of Special Education.
The staffing team’s report may include the following options:
- Continuation of the student’s current educational program or special education services with modification to the IEP.
- An alternative program or service which will meet the student’s needs.
- Recommendation to the AEA Director of Special Education that cessation of the student’s school based program be considered under provisions of Chapter 281.8.
- If the student’s misconduct is not caused by the disability, the student may be expelled or suspended for a long-term period following written notice to the parents/guardians and pursuant to the district’s expulsion hearing procedures.
Expulsion of a student with disabilities requiring a special education program or service shall be considered the least desirable option and should only be implemented after all other alternatives have proved to be unsuccessful.
LEGAL REF: Iowa Code, Chapters 282.4, 282.5, 279.8; Goss vs. Lopez 95 S. Ct. 729 (1975); Wood vs Strickland, Feb. 1975; Honig v. Doe 108 S. Ct. 592; 98 L. Ed 2nd 686 (1988)
Approved: 2/12/90 Reviewed: 04/24/14 Revised: _____2/9/04___