Special Education Process Handbook
Chapter 13: Suspension and Expulsion of Children with Disabilities for Disciplinary Violations

Discipline Under IDEA 2004

Behavior incidents for students with disabilities who do not have a specific behavior goal or plan:
  • General school discipline plan and principal discretion
Behavior incidents for students with disabilities who have a specific behavior goal/plan:
  • Follow the behavior plan in the IEP
  • May provide in school suspension as often as necessary/appropriate
  • May provide out of school suspension for up to ten days
  • May make a change of placement to a more restrictive setting with parent permission/IEP team decision
Once a student exceeds ten days of out of school suspension, the team must complete a Manifestation Determination by completing a form and answering the following two questions:
  • Was the conduct in question caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability?
  • Was the conduct in question the direct result of the local educational agency’s failure to implement the IEP?

If the answer to either question is “Yes”, the conduct in question is a manifestation of the disability.  The student is then put back in the original placement.  The IEP team is then responsible to review the current plan and supports.  Placement changes can be made as a team decision.

If the answer to both questions is “No”, the conduct in question is not considered as a manifestation of the disability.  If this is the case, the student can be given a long term suspension, or possibly expulsion.  Note: - if the student is expelled or given a long term suspension, special education support services must still be provided as identified by an IEP team.  Educational services must be provided “so as to enable the child to continue to participate in the general curriculum … and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the child’s IEP.”

When a student with a disability has a drug and or weapons offense or if the student inflicts “serious bodily injury upon another person”, the student can be removed for up to 45 school days even if the behavior is related to the student’s disability.  Serious bodily injury is defined strictly, as that which involves substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.  Special education support services would still need to be provided during the 45 days.  At the end of the 45 days, a hearing officer could be called in to determine if more days out of school are appropriate.

Rather than immediately removing a student with a disability for the 45 days, a principal may choose to call an IEP team meeting and consider a formal change of placement into a more restrictive setting.  The change of placement can last longer than 45 days.  If an IDEA hearing is initiated either by the school or parent, to challenge a disciplinary action, the child shall remain in the interim alternative educational setting pending the decision of the hearing officer.