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  • Special Discipline Rights for Students with Disabilities
  • 8 Common Mistakes Schools Make
  • What if My Child Does Not Have an IEP?
  • Special Discipline Rights for Students with Disabilities

Public schools can suspend and expel students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs); however, they must convene a manifestation determination review meeting within ten school days of deciding to change such a student's placement.

What is a manifestation determination meeting?

A manifestation determination meeting is a meeting where the relevant members of the IEP Team review relevant information about the student  and answer two questions:


  1. Was the behavior caused by, or have a direct and substantial relationship to the student's disability?

  2. Was the behavior the direct result of the school's failure to implement the student's IEP

When is a manifestation determination meeting required?

A manifestation determination meeting must be held within ten school days if a child with a disability:

  • Has been suspended for ten consecutive school days

  • Has been suspended ten cumulative (total) days in the same school year for similar behaviors

  • The school is considering expelling the student

What happens if the team finds that the behavior is a manifestation of the student's disability?

The school is not permitted to remove the student from his placement for more than ten consecutive days (or cumulative school days for similar behavior) if the behavior is deemed a manifestation of the student's disability with three exceptions (i.e. behavior that involves weapons, serious bodily injury, or drugs) for which the school may remove the student for 45 school days even if it is a manifestation of his disability.    (Under no circumstances may a student with a disability be punished more severely than a student without a disability.)


This information is intended to be a general summary of your child's rights.  There are other important procedural rights afforded by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

What if you disagree with a manifestation determination decision?
You may request an expedited due process hearing to challenge the manifestation determination decision.

  • 8 Common Mistakes Schools Make When Disciplining Students

MISTAKE #1 - Your child did not violate the rules!
Was your child's behavior the violation that he/she was accused of?  We often see that the behavior description does not match what is prohibited in the Code of Student Conduct.

MISTAKE #2 - They fail to give proper notice!

Proper and timely notice is a required element of procedural due process.  Often schools fail to give proper notice of suspensions.   The notice requirements vary from state to state; but, all states have requirements for notice for suspensions and expulsions.

MISTAKE #3 - They fail to follow the rules!
There are other rules stated in the Code of Student Conduct and/or state laws that the school must follow in order to provide your child with his/her right to procedural due process.  They often fail to follow these rules.


MISTAKE #4 - They abuse their discretion!
Even when they get caught making mistakes, they abuse their discretion.  You and your child can challenge decisions involving suspensions and expulsions.   Often these hearings are kangaroo courts.


MISTAKE #5 - They make poor manifestation decisions.
Often, they make the wrong manifestation decision.  This happens far too often.  For example, we once had a client who drank alcohol at school, and school officials almost determined that the violation was not a manifestation of the student's alcohol use disorder.   In another case, a school decided that a child's conduct that was fully described in his IEP for which he had goals and services was not a manifestation of his disability.


MISTAKE #6 - They punish more severely than allowed!
We represented a client that school officials were trying to remove the student from his placement 35 more school days than the rules allowed.


MISTAKE #7 - They unlawfully discriminate against students.
When making discipline decisions, school officials are prohibited from discriminating against students based on their race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital, disability, sexual orientation, or social or family background.   One of the most egregious cases we had of unlawful discrimination was when a school removed a black student with a disability from his placement for 70+ days.  We helped stop this illegal behavior and recovered compensatory education services for the student.

MISTAKE #8 -  They fail to identify disabilities.

School officials must timely locate, evaluate and identify students who may be eligible for IEPs and 504 Plans.  When they fail to identify these students properly and timely, they often fail other duties (like manifestation determinations and other decisions).   We help parents of kids with special needs obtain IEPs and 504 Plans when the children are eligible.   We know the criteria for eligibility.  Often school officials neglect the rules regarding proper evaluation and identification.


  • What if My Child Does Not Have an IEP?

Your child may also have a right to a manifestation determination review if the school system has a "basis of knowledge."    The school system has a basis of knowledge that your child has a disability if:

  1. You expressed concern in writing to supervisory or administrative personnel or the teacher of the child that your child is in need of special education and related services.

  2. You requested an evaluation of the child to determine if he/she needs special education and related services.

  3. The teacher of the child or other personnel of the school system expressed specific concerns about a pattern of behavior demonstrated by the child directly to the director of special education of the agency or to other supervisory personnel of the school system.

Further, if you think your child needs special education and related services you should immediately send an email to school officials asking for them to evaluate your child.

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