School Expulsion or Suspension
Suspensions and/or expulsions are a form of school discipline. School discipline is a required set of actions by a district towards a student (or a group of students) after their behavior disrupts the ongoing educational activity or breaks a pre-established rule created by the school system. This is based upon the District Code of Conduct (“COC”). These COCs can be found on every school district’s website and contain specific information about infractions and possible consequences. Each COC should include language which relates to students with disabilities.
Suspensions and expulsions are the single most determining factor as to whether a child will graduate from high school. They should not be ignored. If your child has been put up for expulsion or has a series of suspensions, you should seek further assistance by calling (386) 361-5254.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?
Children with disabilities often have behaviors that may:
- Make it difficult to learn;
- Cause harm to the child or others;
- Isolate a child from their peers; or
- Cause disruption in the school setting or school environment.
Children with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan are safeguarded from disciplinary exclusions if the conduct in question:
- Was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability; or
- Was the direct result of the local education agency’s failure to implement the IEP.
For students with disabilities who have an IEP or 504 plan, the student is entitled to a meeting, called a “manifestation determination,” if:
- The student has been suspended for 10 days; or
- The student has been subject to a series of suspensions of a similar nature totaling ten (10) days in one school year, called a “pattern of exclusion.”
However, there are special circumstances when a child can be removed for up to 45 days even if his or her behavior is found to be a manifestation of disability, if the incident involved:
- Bodily Injury
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
To protect your child while they are being questioned by police or school administration during incidents that could result in suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests, you should:
Advise your child to stay calm and respectful;
Advise your child to remain silent when being questioned by police or school administration until you can be present;
Advise your child to respectfully state, “I will speak to you after my parent is present,” when being asked for questioning by police or school administration; and
Create a card for your child to read if they are being questioned by police or administration.
If your child has been suspended or expelled, you should do the following:
- Ask for all paperwork related to the incident, including any statements made regarding the incident, and referrals;
- Make sure all communication with the school district is in writing, preferably by email.
If your child has an Individualized Educational Plan or 504 Plan and has been put up for expulsion, you need to contact a qualified attorney who is familiar with education law immediately. You can contact the Children’s Rights Unit at Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida at (386) 361-5254.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING ACTION?
Has your child been identified as a student with a disability?
If not, have you requested an evaluation for your child, or alerted someone at the school that you believe your child may have a disability?
Have you put your concerns in writing?
If you have concerns regarding suspension or expulsion, you may contact us at (386) 361-5254.