6 Tips Every South Dakota School Administrator Needs To Know About Special Education Discipline

Disciplining special education students can be difficult and confusing. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act's (IDEA) discipline procedures involve many variables. In particular, what constitutes the "removal" of a student from his current placement is particularly complicated. Here are 6 tips for determining whether a student has been "removed" under the IDEA.

Tip #1 - What is a "removal"?

A "removal" occurs when a student violates a student code of conduct and is removed from his current placement and placed in another setting, suspended, or expelled.

Tip #2 - Does sending a student home for a portion of the day constitute a removal?

Yes. Portions of a school day that a student has been suspended or sent home may be considered a removal.

Tip #3 - Does assigning a student to after-school detention or Saturday detention count as a removal?

No. After-school detention or Saturday detention does not impact the student's special education placement during the school day and so it is not a removal of the student from his current placement.

Tip #4 - Is there a period of time in which a student may be removed without the need for any additional procedures under the IDEA?

Yes. A student who violates a student code of conduct may be removed from his current placement for up to 10 consecutive school days (without implementing any IDEA procedures) as long as the same discipline would be applied to a student without disabilities.

Tip #5 - Can a student be removed more than once in a school year on a short-term basis?

Yes. A school district may impose multiple short-term removals during a school years long as the cumulative days don't constitute a "change in placement." However, after the first 10 cumulative days of removal in one school year, the IDEA's procedural safeguards will apply.

Tip #6 - Who makes the decision whether a series of removals constitute a "change in placement"?

A school district determines on a case-by-case basis whether a pattern of removals constitutes a "change in placement." A school district should implement a procedure which is followed consistently to determine whether a particular short-term removal should be treated as a change in placement.

For more information about the discipline of special education students, please read Chapter 21 of the South Dakota School Law Deskbook™. 

Scott Swier
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