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Final IDEA Disciplinary Procedures

Parents, advocates, and school system personnel have all been concerned about the regulations with differing opinions about changes that should be made.

Before the IDEA amendments of 1997, school personnel were only allowed to remove children to an interim alternative educational placement for up to 45 days if the child brought a gun to school or to a school function. According to 1997 amendments:

Schools can remove a child for up to ten school days at a time for any violation of school rules as long as there is not a pattern of removals; A child with a disability cannot be long-term suspended or expelled from school of behavior that is a manifestation of his or her disability; and Services must continue for children with disabilities who are suspended or expelled from school if the behavior is a manifestation of a child's disability. In addition, the 1997 amendments expand the authority of school personnel to remove a child who brings any dangerous weapon to school, or who knowingly possesses illegal drugs or who sells or solicits sale of any controlled substances. Schools can also request a hearing officer to remove a child for up to 45 days if keeping a child in his or her current placement is substantially likely to result in injury to that child or to others.

Even though there are still disagreements over whether the regulations concerning the discipline of students with disabilities are helpful or harmful to these students, the final regulations do clarify some of the key issues. Unfortunately, many parents and advocates for children with behavior disorders are concerned that the final regulations have weakened the rights of these students to a free appropriate education.

Removals of Up to Ten School Days at a Time - The regulations clarify that school personnel may remove a child with a disability for up to ten school days, and for additional removals of up to ten school days for separate acts of misconduct, as long as the removals do not constitute a pattern.

Services During Periods of Disciplinary Removal - Schools do not need to provide services during the first ten school days in a school year that the child is removed.

After the first ten days, for any suspension that is for less than ten school days, schools must provide services to the extent determined necessary to enable the child to appropriately progress in the general curriculum and appropriately advance toward achieving the goals if the IEP. In cases involving removal for ten days or less, school personnel, in consultation with the child's special education teacher, decides what services are to be provided. During any long term removal for behavior that is not a manifestation of a child's disability, schools must provide services to the extent determined necessary to enable the child to appropriately progress in the general curriculum and advance toward achieving the goals of the IEP. The child's IEP team decides what services are to be provided. Conducting Behavioral Assessments and Developing Behavioral Interventions - Meetings of a child's IEP team to develop a behavioral assessment plan or, if the child has one, to review the child's behavioral intervention plan are only required when the child has first been removed from his or her current placement for more than ten school days in a school year, and when beginning a suspension that constitutes a change in placement. If additional suspensions occur, the IEP team members review the child's behavioral intervention plan and its implementation to determine if modifications to the plan are needed, and only meet if one or more team members believe that modifications are necessary.

Manifestation Determinations - Manifestation determines are only required if a school is implementing a removal that constitutes a change of placement.

Change of Placement - The regulations say that a change of placement occurs if a child is removed for more than ten consecutive school days or is subjected to a series of removals that constitute a pattern because they add up to more than ten school days in a school year, and because of factors such as the length of each removal, the total amount of time the child is removed, and the closeness of the removals to one another.

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