Discipline of Disabled Students

The discipline of disabled students is one of the most vexing issues routinely confronted by building administrators. The rules are exceedingly complex (unnecessarily so, from our perspective) and the consequences of non-compliance are burdensome and expensive. Accordingly, we recommend the first question any building administrator should ask and answer in any disciplinary situation is whether the student in question is disabled within the meaning of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). If the answer is “yes,” the next thing the building administrator should do is review the student’s IEP or 504 Plan and, before imposing disciplinary consequences, discuss the situation with the district’s chief central office administrator(s) with responsibility for IDEA and Section 504.

That said, the rules concerning the discipline of disabled students, while complex, are not impossible to understand. Here, we will not attempt to describe them all in exhaustive detail; that would require a book chapter rather than an article. Instead, we will summarize the primary factors building administrators should take into account and organize them in a useful manner. Read more here.

Additional Insights...

Sixth Circuit Addresses Cell Phone Searches

We always keep a careful eye on decisions from the United States Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit is the appellate court for all federal trial courts in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Accordingly, Sixth Circuit decisions establish binding legal precedent that will be applied to Michigan students. The Sixth Circuit’s recent decision in GC v Owensboro Public Schools (Case No. 11-6476, March 28, 2013) set the standard by which student cell phone searches will be evaluated. Read more here.

Governmental Immunity Expanded To Cover Mandatory Reporting Laws

In a recent decision, Jones v. Bitner, the Court of Appeals analyzed the broad reach of governmental immunity as it applies to mandatory reporting laws.

In Bitner, the Defendant Officer was a member of the Michigan State Police narcotics enforcement team.  In this position, the Defendant Officer used undercover drug agents to purchase illegal morphine from Kelly Ann Jones (Ms. Jones).  Read more here.