UPDATED JUNE 2021
Without the agreement of the parents or a court order, a special education
student may not be removed for more than 20 cumulative days in a school
year or five consecutive days except under special circumstances (see
below.). After 10 cumulative school days, an IEP meeting should be held
and alternative educational services instituted.
Schools have an obligation to protect the health and safety of all students.
Should there be a serious violation of conduct by a special education
student, the same guidelines that apply to general education students
should be used when deciding when to summon law enforcement officials
to respond to the situation.
Under special circumstances a special education student who brings a weapon
to school, knowingly possesses a controlled substance or inflicts serious
bodily injury may be placed in an alternative educational placement for
forty-five (45) days without parental concurrence.
Disciplinary removal is the removal of a student from ongoing instruction
for adjustment purposes. Students are "removed" when they cannot
continue to progress in the general curriculum and receive the services
specified on their IEP and/ or participate with non-disabled children
to the extent they would have in their current placement.
- Removals may include:
> In-school suspensions
> Bus suspensions
A removal is a change of placement when it:
- Is for more than 10 consecutive school days.
- Is for more than 10 cumulative school days and constitutes a pattern.
When determining if a pattern of removals is present the team should
consider if the disciplinary violations are substantially similar to
previous incidents resulting in removal, total amount of time the student
has been removed and the proximity of the removals to each other.
Reasons for Removal
Disciplinary removals may be issued for:
- Causing, attempting to cause or threatening to cause physical injury
to another person, or willfully using force or violence on the person
of another, except in self-defense.
- Possessing, selling, furnishing, or using any firearm, knife, explosive
or other dangerous object.
- Possessing, selling, furnishing, using or being under the influence
of any controlled substance, including alcohol or any intoxicant, including
- Unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell any controlled
substance, alcohol or intoxicant, or otherwise furnished to a person
another liquid, substance, or material and represented the liquid, substance,
or material as a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant.
- Committing or attempting to commit robbery or extortion.
- Causing or attempting to cause damage to school property or private
- Stealing or attempting to steal school property or private property.
- Possessing or using tobacco or products containing tobacco or nicotine.
- Committing an obscene act or engaging in habitual profanity or vulgarity.
- Unlawfully possessing or offering, negotiating, or negotiating to
sell any drug paraphernalia.
- Disrupting school activities or defying valid authority of school
staff engaged in the performance of their duties.
- Knowingly receiving stolen property or private property.
- Possessing an imitation firearm.
- Committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or committing
- Harassing, threatening, or intimidating a complaining witness or witnesses
in a school disciplinary proceeding.
- Robbery or extortion.
- Engaged in or attempted to engage in hazing.
- Engaged in an act of bullying, defined as any severe or pervasive
physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in
writing or by means of an electronic act that can reasonably be predicted
to place a student in fear of harm for himself or his property, experience
substantially detrimental effects on physical or mental health, causes
substantial interference with academic performance or experience substantial
interference with ability to participate in or benefit from services,
activities, or privileges provided by a school
- Sexual harassment
- Caused, attempted to cause, or participated in an act of hate violence.
- Harassment severe enough to create a hostile educational environment.
- Making terroristic threats
Length of Disciplinary Removals
In California, a school administrator may suspend a student who commits
a serious offense for up to 5 days. The Superintendent or designee may
extend the student's suspension so that the total number of days suspended
does not exceed 10 consecutive school days. The extension of suspension
may only be imposed if the Superintendent or designee has determined,
following a meeting to which the student and the student's parent are
invited to participate, that the presence of the student at the school
or in an alternative school placement would cause a danger to persons
or property or a threat of disrupting the instructional process. If the
student or the student's parent requests a meeting to discuss the original
suspension, the Superintendent may determine at that meeting whether to
extend the suspension. Additionally, A teacher may suspend any pupil from
class, for the day of the suspension and the day following. The teacher
shall immediately report the suspension to the principal of the school
and send the pupil to the principal or the designee of the principal for
The Superintendent may also decide to extend the suspension pending expulsion.
Parents must be notified on the day this decision is made. They should
be given a copy of their procedural due process rights at this time. The
IEP team that meets to make the manifest determination does not expel
students, nor do they recommend that students be expelled. The IEP team
determines whether the student may be disciplined like a non-disabled
student. Also note that regardless of the outcome of the Superintendent's
decision and recommendation to the Board, IEP services to a student with
a disability must begin on the eleventh day of removal.
Types of Disciplinary Removals
- Removal Type 1 - Short-term removals of 10 days or fewer in a school
- The same disciplinary procedures apply to special education students
as to general education students.
- A teacher or administrator may assign short-term removals without
the concurrence of the parent and without having an IEP meeting.
- The student has no right to educational services during the period(s)
- LEA is only required to provide services if it provides services
to non-disabled pupil who is similarly removed.
- Removal Type 2 - Short-term removals of more than 10 cumulative
days not constituting a change in placement.
- General disciplinary rules apply in this situation, as well as
special education provisions.
- The student is entitled to educational services on the 11th day
of suspension to enable the student to progress in the general curriculum
and advance toward achieving IEP goals and objectives.
- School personnel should consult with the special education service
provider to determine the type of special education services to
be provided to the student. These services must begin on the 11th
day of suspension.
- Within 10 days of the 11th day of suspension, an IEP team meeting
must be held to determine if a behavior intervention plan needs
to be instituted or changed. No manifest determination is required.
- Removal Type 3 - Short-term removals of more than 10 cumulative
days constituting a change in placement.
- A removal is a change of placement if it is (1) for more than
10 consecutive school days; (2) for more than 10 cumulative days
and constitutes a pattern because of proximity and total time removed,
and similarity of infractions and lengths of time removed.
- For this type of removal, the student is entitled to educational
services on the 11th day of removal.
- An IEP team must determine the scope of services to be provided.
- The IEP team must also determine if the infraction is a manifestation
of the student's disability, and if a behavioral intervention plan
must be instituted or changed. This IEP meeting must be held within
10 days of the 11th day of removal. Please note that the IEP team
does not recommend students for expulsion. The team determines if
the student may be disciplined like a non-disabled student. Only
the school board on the recommendation of the superintendent may
expel a student.
- Removal Type 4 - Long-term removals of more than 10 consecutive
- The provisions in #3 (above) apply.
- In addition, the IEP team may assign the student to an interim
alternative education setting (IAES) if the infraction involved
carrying a weapon to or at school, knowingly possessing, using or
selling controlled substances at school or school functions or infliction
of serious bodily harm on a person at school or at a school function.
- Note that the 10-day requirement for holding an IEP is not waived
for students who are incarcerated for their infractions. The IEP
meeting must be held, with services or placements to commence upon
the student's release.
For disciplinary removals of Types 2, 3, or 4 (above), an IEP team meeting
must be held within 10 days of the 11th day of removal to address behavioral
issues. If there is no existing behavioral intervention plan, the IEP
team must conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). If a behavior
intervention plan (BIP) already has been developed, review the BIP and
modify it as necessary to address the behavior. This is a federal requirement.
The functional behavioral assessment can be conducted by reviewing existing
data, or by developing an assessment plan to gather new information. If
there is an existing behavioral intervention plan, the IEP team must determine
if modifications to this plan are required.
Functional Behavior Assessment
- Specifies amount and locations for observations
- Requires medical, social and environmental information
- May require observation and information from other settings
- Requires description & frequency of alternate behaviors
The school staff must review the relationship between the student's disability
and the behavior subject to the disciplinary action to determine whether
the infraction was a manifestation of the disability. This meeting must
be held within 10 school days after the decision to impose a removal that
constitutes a change of placement (removal Types 3 and 4). LEAs need to
conduct a new manifest determination each time it proposes suspending
a student for the same type of conduct. It must be held each time a student:
1. Removed for more than 10 consecutive days and 2. Short term removals
that constitute a change of placement (e.g. "patterns" of removals).
The team must include qualified personnel who have information on the
needs of the student as determined by the district and parent. The team
must consider all relevant information, including:
- Information supplied by the parents
- Observations of the student
- The student's IEP and current placement
- Any teacher observations
- The student's IEP
The team must use the above information to determine if the conduct in
- Was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the
student's disability; or
- Was a direct result of the district's failure to implement the IEP
Manifestation Determination Finding
If the team determines that:
Either of the above conditions was true, then the student's behavior was
a manifestation of his or her disability, and the student may not be
disciplined and the student will return to the placement from which the
student was removed, unless the parent and the school district agree to
a change of placement as part of the modification of the behavioral intervention
plan. The team must review any existing Behavior Intervention Plan
and make adjustments or conduct a Functional Behavior Analysis to create
a Behavior Intervention Plan if one is not already in place.
Neither of the above conditions was true, then the student's behavior
was not a manifestation of his or her disability, the student may be
disciplined in the same manner as a student without disabilities,
including placing the student in an Interim Alternative Educational Setting.
Interim Alternative Education Settings
The IEP Team may place a student in an Interim Alternative Education Setting
(IAES) for up to 45 school days if the conduct subject to discipline is
determined not to be a manifestation of his or her disability, or under
special circumstances, without making any determination of manifestation.
Placement in the IAES must enable the student to continue to progress
in the general curriculum and provide the special education services necessary
to address the existing special education goals. In addition, the IAES
must provide services and modifications that address the misconduct and
are designed to prevent the behavior from recurring. LEA may place a student
in IAES more than once during the same school year, however, cannot unilaterally
extend 45 day IAES placements. Additionally, IAES removals may carry over
to the next school year, if made when there are fewer than 45 school days
remaining in the current school year.
IAES Placement under Special Circumstances
In order for the District to place a student in an Interim Alternative
Educational Setting without first determining if the conduct was a manifestation
of a disability, the conduct in question must meet one of the following
- The student carries or possesses a weapon to or at school, on school
premises, or to or at a school function under the jurisdiction of any
State or local educational agency. A weapon is defined as any weapon,
device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that
is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily
injury, but not including a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2
½ inches in length.
- The student knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs or sells a controlled
substance while at school, on school premises, or at a school function
under the jurisdiction of a State or local educational agency. An illegal
drug is defined as a controlled substance but does not include a controlled
substance that is legally possessed or under the supervision of a licensed
health-care professional or that is legally possessed or under any other
authority of the Controlled Substances Act or any other provision of
Federal law. A controlled substance is defined as a drug or other substance
identified under schedule I,II,III, IV, or V in section 202© of
the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812(c)).
- The student inflicts serious bodily injury upon another person while
at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction
of a State or local educational agency. Serious bodily injury is defined
as a bodily injury which involves a substantial risk of death, extreme
physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss
or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty.
Appeal of Team Decision
The parent of a student with a disability may request an expedited due
process hearing if he/she disagrees with the manifestation determination
or with the placement in an Interim Alternative Educational Setting. The
Office of Administrative Hearings will hear the case within 20 days. While
the parent's due process hearing request is pending resolution, the student
will remain in his or her interim alternative educational placement until
a decision by the administrative law judge or until the expiration of
the disciplinary placement, whichever occurs first, unless the parent
and the District agree otherwise. The Hearing Officer will determine whether
the student remains in the Interim Alternative Educational Setting or
returns to the placement from which he or she was removed.
Discipline of Students Not Yet Eligible for Special Education Services
A student who has not been determined to be a student with special needs
and who engaged in a behavior subject to disciplinary removal may assert
IDEA protections if the district had knowledge that the student was disabled
before the behavior occurred. The district shall be deemed to have knowledge
that the student had a disability if one of the following conditions exists:
- The parent or guardian had expressed concern in writing, to supervisory
or administrative personnel, or to a teacher of the student that the
student was in need of special education or related services; and
- The parent or guardian had requested an initial evaluation of the
student for special education pursuant to federal law; or
- The teacher of the student or other district personnel has expressed
specific concern about a pattern of behavior demonstrated by the student
to the district's Director of Special Education or to other supervisory
The district would be deemed to not have knowledge, as specified above,
if the parent or guardian had not allowed an initial evaluation of the
student or had refused services, or if the student had been evaluated
and it was determined that the student was not a child with a disability.
If it is determined that the district did not have knowledge that the
student was disabled prior to taking disciplinary action against the student,
then the student shall be disciplined in accordance with procedures established
for students without disabilities.
If a request is made for an evaluation of a student during the time period
in which the student is subject to disciplinary measures, the evaluation
will be conducted in an expedited manner. Until the evaluation is completed,
the student will remain in the educational placement determined by the
school authorities. If the student is found to be not eligible for special
education services, the parent may file for due process to contest the
decision, but the student continues to be subject to disciplinary measures
as a student without special needs.
Disciplinary Removals of Section 504 Students
Students considered disabled under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973 are entitled to the same disciplinary protections as students
who are eligible for special education. Districts must maintain a formal
written policy for discipline of Section 504 students, along with other
Section 504 policies. Appeals of Manifestation Determination decisions
and placement decisions may be made according to district guidelines for
CFR 300.50420 USC1415
here to download and print "Procedures Guide-Discipline"