Understanding In-School Suspension and the 10-Day Rule for Special Education Students

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) places some restrictions on how many times a student can be suspended before a school is required to hold an IEP team meeting. The intention is to make sure that children who may have learning or behavior issues are not repeatedly punished rather than getting the supports they need. If a student is suspended for 10 cumulative school days in a year, IDEA requires there to be a meeting of his IEP team to perform specific tasks.

A "removal" is when a special education student who violates the student code of conduct is removed from his current placement (such as the special education services the student receives in the general education classroom, special education classroom, or both) and placed in another setting, or is suspended or expelled).

Some administrators may wonder if in-school suspension (ISS) is a "removal" and do the days a student spends in ISS count toward the 10-day limit? As with most special education issues, the answer is a definite “maybe.” The IDEA regulations do not directly address ISS. However, a discussion of ISS is included in "Attachment I – Analysis of Comments and Changes" published with the final regulations. In sum, ISS will not be counted as one of the 10 days in a school year that a student can be removed if (1) the student is afforded the opportunity to continue to appropriately progress in the general curriculum; (2) the student continues to receive the services specified on his IEP; and (3) the student continues to participate with nondisabled children to the extent he would have in his current IEP placement.

If these three factors are satisfied, the ISS will not constitute a removal even if the ISS placement is for more than 10 cumulative school days. However, if these factors cannot be satisfied, then the ISS assignment will constitute a removal.

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