Discipline for Students with Special Needs
All students are expected to meet the requirements for behavior as set forth in this handbook Chapter 71B of the Massachusetts General Laws requires that additional provisions be made for students who have been found by an Evaluation TEAM to have special needs and whose program is described in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The following additional requirements apply to the discipline of special needs students.
1. The IEP for every special needs student will indicate whether the student can be expected to meet the regular discipline code or if the student’s handicapping condition requires a modification. Any modification will be described in the IEP.
2. The Principal (or designee) will notify the Special Education Office of the suspendable offense of a special needs student and a record will be kept of such notices.
3. Parents of students who are on IEP’s have the right to appeal to the courts on decisions for suspensions that exceed ten (10) cumulative days.
4. When it is known that the suspension (s) of a special needs student will accumulate to ten days in a school year, a review of the IEP will be held to determine the appropriateness of the student’s placement or program. The TEAM will make a finding as to the relationship between the student’s misconduct and his/her handicapping condition and either:
• Design a modified program for the student or
• Write an amendment to provide for the delivery of special education services during the suspension and any needed modification of the IEP relative to discipline code expectations. In addition, the Department of Education will be notified as required by law and the procedures promulgated by the Department of Education for requesting approval of the alternative plan will be followed
As circumstances warrant, discipline will be affected on an individualized basis. Unless stipulated by statute, final appeals will be made to the Principal.
Discipline of Students Whose Eligibility for Special Education is Suspected:
The IDEA protections summarized above also apply to a child who has not yet been found eligible for services under the statute if the district is “deemed to have knowledge” that the child was eligible for such services before the conduct that precipitated the disciplinary action occurred. The IDEA provides that a school district is “deemed to have knowledge” if: (1) the child’s parent had expressed concern in writing to district supervisory or administrative personnel or the child’s teacher that the child needs special education and related services; (2) the child’s parent had requested an evaluation of the child to determine eligibility for special education services; or (3) the teacher of the child or other school district personnel had expressed specific concerns about a pattern of behavior by the child directly to the district’s director of special education or to other supervisory personnel.
However, a school district is not “deemed to have knowledge” if the district evaluated the student and determined that the child was not eligible for special education services or the child’s parent refused an evaluation of the child or IDEA services. If the school district has no knowledge that a student is an eligible student under the IDEA before taking disciplinary measures against the student, the student may be disciplined just as any other student may be.
If, however, a request is made for an evaluation to determine eligibility while the student is subject to disciplinary measures, the district must conduct the evaluation in an expedited manner. Pending the results of the evaluation, the student must remain in the educational placement determined by school authorities, which may include suspension or expulsion without services. If the student is determined eligible for an IEP as a result of the evaluation, the school district must provide the student with special education and related services in accordance with the IDEA.