The US Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has a guidance letter on disciplinary removals:
Children with disabilities are at a greater risk of disciplinary removals that significantly interrupt their learning, often unnecessarily. These risks are increased for children of color with disabilities. In many cases, we have reason to believe these removals are due to minor instances of misbehavior that are unrelated to issues of child or school safety, and can and should be addressed through supports and guidance.
When behavioral supports are not provided and, as a result, a child with a disability is repeatedly removed from his or her current placement through suspensions for behavior that impedes his or her learning or that of others, a number of options are available to assist parents in challenging the appropriateness of their child’s IEP. First, as noted earlier, parents have the right to request an IEP Team meeting at any time, and public agencies generally must grant a reasonable parental request for an IEP Team meeting. Parents may be particularly interested in making such a request following changes in the child’s behavior that result in disciplinary removals. Further, parents, individuals, and organizations may also pursue child-specific or systemic remedies through the State complaint procedures outlined below.
When conditions persist and a denial of FAPE is suspected, a parent or a public agency may file a due process complaint to request a due process hearing on any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child with a disability, or the provision of FAPE to the child. 34 CFR §300.507(a). If the dispute cannot be resolved through the resolution process, the parent or public agency must have an opportunity for an impartial due process hearing. 34 CFR §§300.511(a), 300.512, 300.513 and 300.515.
A second important method for resolving disputes available under IDEA is the mediation process described in 34 CFR §300.506. The mediation process, which must be voluntary, offers a less formal opportunity for parents and public agencies to resolve disputes about any matter, including disciplinary removals, under 34 CFR part 300, including matters arising prior to the filing of a due process complaint. 34 CFR §300.506(a).
Lastly, States are also required to establish and implement their own State complaint procedures, separate from their due process procedures, for resolving any complaint that meets the requirements of 34 CFR §300.153. 34 CFR §300.151(a)(1). Any organization or individual, including one from another State, may file a signed written State complaint alleging that a public agency has violated a requirement of either Part B of the Act or the Part B regulations. Additional information regarding dispute resolution is available at:
- Questions and Answers on IDEA Part B Dispute Resolution Procedures, revised July 2013 (OSEP Memo 13-08) (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/acccombinedosersdisputereso lutionqafinalmemo-7-23-13.pdf); and
- Dear Colleague Letter on a public agency’s Use of Due Process Procedures After a Parent Has Filed a State Complaint, April 2015 (https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/dcl04152015disputeresoluti on2q2015.pdf)