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Manifestation

Q – My son has ADD and has been receiving IEP. He was recently suspended for the second time for pushing another student. The school is considering expelling my son, but I really think he is getting into trouble because he has trouble understanding how to handle tense social situations. What can I do? Can my son still receive services during his suspension from school?

A – The law states explicitly that a FAPE (free and appropriate public education) must be available to all children with disabilities, including children with disabilities who have been suspended or expelled from school. Hence, your son is entitled to receive services even during his suspension, even if it is for more than 10 days.

 

The school can't impose a long-term suspension or expel a student with special educational needs if the behavior for which s/he is being disciplined for was a "manifestation" of his or her disability. The law (IDEA) provides that the IEP team must find that behavior was a manifestation of the child's disability if (1) the conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child's disability; or (2) the conduct in question was the direct result of the local educational agency's failure to implement the IEP.

Regardless of whether the behavior is found to be a manifestation of the child's disability or part of it, the school must conduct a "functional behavioral assessment" and develop or modify a behavioral intervention plan as necessary to address the child's behavior that s/he is being disciplined for.

As a special education attorney, I can protect the student's and parents' educational and due process rights when the child is faced with a long-term suspension or expulsion.

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