Find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about discipline issues. Just click on a question below to reveal the answer associated with it.
Ask the school to administer a functional behavior assessment (FBA). An FBA is a study of your child to find out why he or she is having behavior problems. It should include:
- Observations of your child at school
- An interview with your child, you (the parents) and your child’s teachers
- A review of discipline records
After the school finishes the assessment, the individualized education program team should write a behavior intervention plan (BIP). A BIP is a plan that helps when your child’s behavior is affecting his or her learning or that of other students. The plan should:
- Be tailored to your child’s needs.
- Provide your child with support so he or she can make progress on school goals and avoid suspension and detention.
- Include positive motivation so your child has a reason to improve behavior. For example, if your child loves to play on the computer, the plan could offer 10 minutes of computer time good behavior all morning. Behaving means different things for different children. It could mean staying seated and working quietly, or not cursing all morning.
Here are the rules on suspension:
- The school may suspend a student for up to 10 school days for violations of the school’s discipline code.
- The school normally cannot suspend your child for more than 10 school days in a row without having a meeting called a manifestation determination review (MDR). See information below.
- The school also must hold a review if it has suspended your child for more than 10 school days during the school year for similar behavior problems.
- The only time a school can immediately suspend your child for more than 10 days without holding an MDR is when your child:
- Brings drugs to school
- Brings a weapon to school
- Causes serious bodily injury to someone at school
Here are the facts about an MDR:
- The school cannot expel your child without first holding an MDR.
- An MDR is a meeting the school calls if it wants to suspend or expel your child for more than 10 school days.
- It must be held within 10 school days of the incident.
- The IEP team decides whether your child’s behavior is a “manifestation” of a disability.
- Your child’s behavior is a manifestation of a disability if it falls under one of these categories:
- Substantially related to the disability
- Caused by the disability
- A direct result of the school’s not following your child’s individualized education program
- If your child’s behavior is a manifestation of a disability, the school cannot expel your child.
- If the IEP team decides that your child’s behavior is a manifestation of a disability, it must complete a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) or review your child’s existing FBA. The IEP team must do one of the following:
- Create a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) to address the behavior discussed at the meeting
- Changes to your child’s existing behavior plan so the school can provide support to address the behavior
- If the IEP team decides that your child’s behavior is not a manifestation of his or her disability and you do not agree, you can file for an expedited due process hearing. If you want to do this, you should contact the clinic’s Helpline at 866-KIDS-046 (866-543-7046).
Your child may be immediately removed to another school setting, without regard to whether your child’s behavior is a manifestation of his or her disability, when he or she:
- Seriously injures someone at school
- Brings a weapon to school or to a school function
- Possesses or uses illegal drugs, or sells or solicits the sale of these drugs at school
These are the facts about Interim Alternative Education Settings (IAES):
- The school may place your child in an IAES for up to 45 days.
- The IEP team determines the interim setting.
- A common example of an IAES is an alternative school.
- After the 45 school days are up, your child goes back to the previous school, unless the school district takes legal action to keep your child out.
At the hearing:
- The school will give reasons for the expulsion and the date the expulsion will start.
- You have several rights at the expulsion hearing:
- Having an attorney or advocate represent you.
- Having witnesses tell why your child should not be expelled, presenting evidence and cross-examining the school’s witnesses.
- Giving the reasons your child should not be expelled.
- If you believe there has been a mistake and your child is innocent, your child can tell his or her “side of the story.”
- Even if your child misbehaved, you may argue that he or she shouldn’t be expelled because:
- The act of misconduct was not bad enough to deserve expulsion
- This is the first instance of serious misconduct
- The behavior did not disrupt the education of the other students
- Expulsion is not in the best interest of your child
If the school district decides to expel your child after the expulsion hearing, you may appeal the decision by going to state court.
An expulsion removes your child from school for more than 10 days in a row. It can last from 11 days to two years.
If your child is a student with a disability:
- He or she can be expelled for the same reasons as a student without a disability, except for behavior that is a result of a disability (MDR).
- The school must still let your child work on IEP goals and participate in the general education curriculum.
Exceptions are limited:
- Your child does not fall within the exceptions to expulsion under IDEA if:
- You did not agree to an evaluation or services for your child
- The school evaluated your child but did not find him or her eligible for special education
- The exception is:
- If the school knew or should have known that your child should be in special education but did not offer to evaluate your child and he or she does not have an IEP
The school can call the police to report a crime, even if your child has a disability. The school must give the police copies of your child’s special education and disciplinary records.
The school may restrain, seclude and put your child in timeouts because of his or her behavior. The school must follow certain rules when doing this and tell you what it did. You should:
- Learn about of the dangers of these discipline actions.
- Tell the school if you disagree with their use.
For more detailed information, click on the Expulsion, BIP, Discipline and Evaluation fact sheets.
- View our Discipline Resources page
- Read about our case work involving discipline issues
- Donate to our Equality for Kids Campaign
- Get legal help
Last updated: April 11, 2014