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Disciplinary Considerations for Students with Disabilities Under IDEA

Students with disabilities receiving special education services are subject to the same expectations as students receiving general education services and are expected to follow the District’s disciplinary process. While IDEA provides federal guidelines covering the discipline procedures to be followed for students with disabilities receiving special education services, consequences for behavior violations, including school removals of more than ten days, may still occur. Discipline safeguards, as covered under IDEA, do not apply to students identified under the eligibility of “gifted” unless such students also have a disability eligibility.

Since the exclusion of a student with a disability from his/her education program for more than a total of ten (10) days cumulative during a school year may constitute a change in placement, the following considerations must be addressed:

  • When considering long-term suspension or expulsion, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team must first determine whether the behavior of concern is a manifestation of the student’s disability.
  • To determine if the conduct in question is or is not a manifestation of the student’s disability, the IEP Team must conduct a Manifestation Determination Review Meeting and address: 
    • whether, the conduct in question was a direct result of the Local Educational Agency’s (LEA) failure to implement the IEP; or 
    • whether, the conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability.
  • If the IEP Team determines that the behavior was a result of the LEA’s failure to implement the IEP or is related to the student’s disability, no discipline shall occur other than removals for special circumstances under IDEA. (Refer to IAES below.) Recommendations: Review IEP, add services and supports, develop/update a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), and/or change services, if appropriate.
  • If the IEP Team determines that the behavior is not a manifestation of the student’s disability or was not a result of the LEA’s failure to implement the IEP, disciplinary actions may be taken in accordance with the procedures in this handbook. 
  • Should the disciplinary procedures include long-term suspension or expulsion, the District must continue to provide educational services, including access to the general education curriculum and related services, as determined in the IEP.
  • Any suspension that excludes a student from his/her IEP services must be counted when calculating the total number of suspension days (up to 10 cumulative days or beyond the 10 days may constitute a change of placement).
  • The decision to change a student from his/her IEP placement to an AES or IAES due to imposition of discipline must be made by the IEP team and consider the student’s individual needs on an individual basis.

Interim Alternative Education Setting (IAES) is an off campus placement for long-term suspension/expulsion or “special circumstances” for offenses which include:

  • Weapons: objects used to cause bodily harm and used in a threatening way,
  • Guns/knives (blade must be 2½ inches or longer): possession/carrying,
  • Illegal drugs: possession/sale/distribution/solicitation (not to include alcohol or tobacco),
  • Serious bodily injury: student has inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises, or at a school function,
  • Placement in IAES for “special circumstances” may be no longer than 45 days. Removals may extend past the 45 school days only if the student has been long-term suspended or expelled through the APS Hearing Process because the conduct was not a manifestation of disability. During the IAES period for “special circumstances” in which the conduct was a manifestation, the IEP team is to meet to develop strategies and interventions to bring the student back into her/his typical placement as soon as appropriate.

Alternative Educational Setting (AES). On campus AES refers to special education services provided on the campus where the student is currently enrolled for the duration of a suspension period of more than 10 days. Typically, on campus AES settings are for students suspended for violations that do not involve drugs/weapons/ serious bodily injury. The IEP team determines the student’s AES. The IEP team is also responsible for ensuring completion of a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and the development of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). If one already exists, it would need to be updated.

  • APS will follow the federal guidelines regarding the continuation of educational services for suspended special education students with disabilities.
  • Procedural safeguards ensure that parental/guardianship due process rights are afforded.
  • Students with disabilities are entitled to a due process hearing.
  • A student with a disability should not be suspended for a period of time longer than a student without a disability would be suspended.