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.