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The school charged Albert (not his real name) with violating the district's Student Code of Conduct.  Specifically, Albert was accused of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.  Albert's mom called us to help her because the school district sought to expel Albert from school.   Not only were we able to keep Albert in school, but the school district dismissed the violation because it failed to provide him with his rights to procedural due process.     


First, we went to a Manifestation Determination Meeting.   We used a report that we developed that reviewed relevant information related to Albert's history as a student with an IEP.  We helped the parent obtain important information from his physician.   We presented this information at the Manifestation Determination Meeting and, after much effort, convinced the team that Albert's conduct was a manifestation of his disability.    However, this alone did not return Albert to school because the school was permitted to remove Albert from his placement for up to 45 days because his violation was a drug offense.

Next, we reviewed the discipline records, including the principal's written report of a hearing he had with Albert.   During that hearing, the principal found that Albert had "smoked the weed," which is only possession of the drug, not possession of the drug with intent to distribute.    This was important because the district's punishment for possession only (for the first time) was only a 10-day suspension.   Possession with intent to distribute was an automatic expellable offense.

Initially, the school district ignored our observation.   It incorrectly stated that the school can remove a student for up to 45 days for conduct involving drugs.   The school can indeed remove a student up to 45 days; however, it cannot punish a student with a disability more than it punishes students with disabilities.   The 45-day rule is a limitation, not an authorization to expand the punishment.

So, we filed a Request for Impartial Hearing alleging that the school district discriminated against Albert because of his disability, that he did not commit the violation of possession of drugs with intent to distribute them, and that they cannot punish him more than it punishes other students without disabilities.     In the end, the school agreed to dismiss the violation altogether, returned Albert to his school, and provided him with 300 hours of compensatory education.


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