Is your special education child being threatened with expulsion?
Would you punish a blind child for being unable to read? Obviously not. But children with behavioral and emotional disabilities are faced with expulsion every day for behaviors that are the result of their disability. Under federal law, your child cannot be punished for behaviors that are substantially related to his or her disability. If your child has special needs and faces disciplinary actions due to a behavioral concern, he or she may be subject to a test called Manifestation Determination. If your child faces expulsion, suspension, or an alternative placement, the Manifestation Determination process assesses if the behavior was related to his or her disability. To make this decision, the district must collect and analyze a great deal of information about your child, including the evaluation, diagnosis, observations, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and other services provided for his or her disability. The IEP team is tasked with making a Manifestation Determination. If the team determines that the behavior was not a manifestation of your child’s disability, the district can discipline your child without considering the disability. That means your child will likely be removed from school for some period of time. This is why it is so important to have representation to help you through the matter at hand. Anderson, Converse & Fennick has significant experience fighting for the rights and future of students. If you need someone to protect your child from unjust disciplinary actions, contact our firm for a consultation.
The school district should coordinate a meeting between you, the Local Education Agency, and the IEP team within 10 school days of the decision to take disciplinary actions. During this meeting, everyone will examine and address all relevant information about your child and the reason the conduct occurred. The goal is to determine whether the disciplinary action is justified and that is determined by assessing two factors:
- Whether the conduct was related to your child’s disability
- Whether the conduct was a result of the district not implementing the IEP correctly
If the meeting concludes that either or both of these factors are applicable, the conduct will be considered a manifestation and the school is required to adjust your child’s special education plan rather than expel your child. If the assessment determines that the conduct is not related to your child’s disability, the district may continue with regular discipline.
Why do I need an attorney?
If you are the parent of a student with disabilities and plan to attend a manifestation determination meeting, it is best to have an education attorney by your side. The meeting usually includes your and members of the school district, leaving you vulnerable as a single advocate for your child. An experienced education attorney with significant knowledge of these matters can be a powerful advocate to help you through the process.
What if I attended the manifestation determination meeting on my own and the team decides the behavior was not a manifestation? Is there anything I can do to protect my child?
Yes. If the team improperly makes this decision, you can appeal that determination through the state due process system. We can file that appeal and represent you through that process.
I have long thought my child had a special education issue but the school district would not give my child an IEP or 504 plan. Now my child is facing expulsion. Is there anything I can do?
Yes. Federal law protects children who should have been given a special education program and are now facing discipline for behavior related to their disability. Your child may fall into the category known as “thought to be exceptional.” If your child meets the requirements of that section of the law, your child should be given a special education program instead of being removed from school.
Contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick
Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm with a focus on education, namely students’ rights. If your son or daughter has special needs and faces disciplinary actions by their school district, it is important to consult and retain an attorney. Our firm has more than 35 years of experience helping families get the services that children need to succeed and fight when those rights are infringed upon by a school district. Contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick to discuss your situation as soon as possible.