Video Summary: Discipline Simplified

This video is an attempt to simplify the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) procedures regarding discipline. Typically, the IDEA’s disciplinary procedures don’t apply until after your child has been removed from school for more than ten days due to behavioral issues.

The point of the regulations in this case is to protect your child’s change in placement. So if your child is out of school for more than ten days, the first thing that happens is a Manifestation Determination. A Manifestation Determination asks two main questions, which we’ll get to in a moment, but first we’ll take a look at the relevant Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)  on the subject. [Note: the symbol “§” stands for section, and “§§” stands for sections.]

Title 34 § 300.530 Authority of school personnel.

(e) Manifestation determination. (1) Within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the LEA, the parent, and relevant members of the child’s IEP Team (as determined by the parent and the LEA) must review all relevant information in the student’s file, including the child’s IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents to determine—

(i) If the conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child’s disability; or

(ii) If the conduct in question was the direct result of the LEA’s failure to implement the IEP.

A Manifestation Determination meeting can include several people from the school, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, and possibly, lawyers on your and the school’s side, respectively. The two main questions considered during a Manifestation Determination meeting are whether your child’s behavioral issues were in some way related to their disability, and whether they were a result of the School’s inability to implement the IEP. For example, if your child’s disability makes him/her impulsive.  If they act impulsively because of their disability, then the behavior was probably caused by the disability. If your child planned the act ahead of time, then the act is not impulsive and probably not related to their disability. If your child’s behavioral issues were caused by them not having equipment or services they were told they would have, then the issue could have been caused by an improper implementation of the IEP.

After taking those questions into consideration, what happens next? If the problem was caused by either their disability or due to failure to follow the IEP, then your child returns to the regular placement with some additional services (such as a functional behavior assessment or a behavior plan) to make sure the problem does not come up again. But what if the problem was not caused by your child’s disability, and the IEP was working properly? If that’s the case, then your child will be placed in an alternative educational setting, where they will still receive special education services and have access to the regular curriculum.

What services your child will receive in the alternative setting differ from child to child. The IEP will again be in charge of making those kinds of decisions, though they will usually include a functional behavior assessment or behavior plan. Most importantly, you (along with the IEP team) should consider what the best course of action to getting your child back in their regular classroom setting will be.

Also, remember that there are procedural protections for children with disabilities who have exhibited behavioral issues and have not been identified by the IDEA. In that case, if for any reason the school should have known that your child had a disability before the behavior, you may have some protections. If your child has caused bodily harm, brought weapons to school, or has used illegal drugs or substances, then the school will follow an additional set of procedures.

As a final note, we understand that discipline in general is a very complicated issue once you get to a Manifestation Determination. Once you get to that point, you will likely want an attorney or advocate to help guide your through the process.

Legal Aid of Nebraska