Students with disabilities may be suspended for any of the misconduct that applies to all students, even if the misbehavior is a manifestation of the child’s disability. A suspension and/or expulsion may result from such things as fighting, possession of drugs or alcohol, possession of weapons, defiance of school authority, theft, bullying, assault or harassment. [Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 48900 and following]. A teacher may suspend a student for up to two days. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 48910.] A principal may suspend a student for up to five days. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 48911.] State law defers to federal law for most of the rules governing suspension and expulsion of special education students. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 48915.5.]
Students with disabilities are subject to the same suspension rules as nondisabled students. However, the law considers a suspension of more than 10 consecutive days a “change of placement”. A “change of placement” also occurs when a student has more than 10 cumulative days of suspensions that constitute a pattern of removals during the same school year. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.536.] A pattern of suspensions means the suspensions occurred in the same school year, are a result of similar behaviors, and/or the length, total days, and proximity of the suspensions are similar.
No change of placement can occur without holding an IEP meeting. So, if the school district proposes to expel your child or has suspended her for more than 10 consecutive days or when there is a pattern as described above during the school year, a “manifestation determination” IEP meeting must be held to determine if your child should be expelled or requires assessment and additional IEP services and behavioral support. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(k)(1)(B).] If you disagree with the manifestation determination IEP team decision to expel your child from school, you can file for due process to stop the expulsion.