Author: Wallace Winter, Supervising Attorney for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
Last updated: October 2012
(Part Two of the Parents’ Guide to Suspensions and Expulsions in Illinois Public Schools)
A suspension is the removal of a student from school for ten days or less. The day the suspension starts counts as one full day, even if the student is suspended in the afternoon or for half a day.
In general, a school may not suspend a special education student for more than a total of ten days in the same school year. So it is important to keep track of the number of days your child is suspended and the reasons why they are suspended. A school can never suspend a special education student for more than ten school days in a row.
Sometimes, the school may suspend a special education student for more than a total of ten days in the same school year. This can happen if the suspensions added up do not form a pattern that would be considered a “change of placement.” A “change of placement” occurs when a special education student is removed from school for a significant period of time. A pattern of suspensions may be a “change of placement” if:
If the student’s suspensions are a change of placement, the school must hold a manifestation determination review (MDR), which is described below.
A student with a disability may be suspended for the same reasons as a non-disabled student. However, students with disabilities have legal protections as discussed throughout this guide. Click below to view information regarding suspensions of non-disabled students:
A student may also be suspended from riding the school bus for misconduct on the bus. Under certain circumstances, a school bus suspension can be considered a suspension. If your child has been suspended from the school bus, click below to view more information on your child’s rights:
The school must immediately give you notice in writing when your child is suspended. This written notice must include:
An expulsion is removal of a student from school for more than 10 days in a row.
A student may be expelled for a definite period of time from 11 days up to 2 years.
A student with a disability can only be expelled if the student’s behavior does not stem from their disability.
Before expelling a student with a disability, a school must hold a meeting called a “manifestation determination review.” At the meeting, the IEP team will discuss whether the student’s behavior stems from their disability. If the IEP team finds that the student’s behavior stems from their disability, then the student cannot be expelled from school.
Within ten school days after making the decision to change the student’s placement, the school must hold the “manifestation determination review.” You should attend this meeting, because if you can persuade the IEP team that your child’s misbehavior was a manifestation of their disability, the school district cannot expel your child.
At the “manifestation determination review” the IEP team must talk about:
The IEP team must decide whether your child’s behavior is a manifestation of their disability. Your child’s behavior is a manifestation of their disability if:
If the IEP team decides that your child’s behavior stems from their disability, the school may not expel your child. The school must conduct a functional behavioral assessment and implement a behavior intervention plan (BIP). If the student already has a BIP, the IEP team should change the BIP as necessary.
You should present any information you have that shows that your child’s behavior was a manifestation of their disability. If your child sees a therapist or doctor who thinks your child’s behavior was a manifestation of their disability, you should get letters from the therapist or doctor. If possible, the therapist or doctor should attend the meeting.
If the school decides to expel your child after the “manifestation determination review,” the school must invite you to attend an expulsion hearing to discuss your child’s behavior.
If your child attends a public school, the school must send you notice of the expulsion hearing in writing and by certified or registered mail. The notice must state the time, place and reason for the hearing, and your right to be represented by an attorney. If your child attends a charter school, you should look at the school’s disciplinary handbook regarding the school’s expulsion procedures.
At the hearing, the school must give reasons for the expulsion and the date when the expulsion will start.
View the Discipline and Manifestation Determination Review Timeline for a summary of this process.
At the expulsion hearing, you have the right to:
You should let the school know if you intend to bring a lawyer and/or call witnesses at the hearing. If the school tape records the hearing, you may request a copy of the tapes after the hearing. Although Chicago and some school districts use tape recorders or court reporters at expulsion hearings, they do not have to do so. If you want to tape record an expulsion hearing, you should tell the people at the hearing. There may be consequences under Illinois law for taping people without their okay.
Before your child is expelled, they will usually first be suspended for up to ten days.
Even if your child is expelled, the school is required to provide services to your child with a disability. The school must see that your child continues to participate in the general education curriculum and progress towards meeting the goals set out in the child’s IEP.
The school may send your child to an interim alternative educational setting for up to 45 school days, if your child:
The school may send your child to one of these schools right away, even before holding a “manifestation determination review.”
Click on the title below to go to more information regarding due process hearings:
If the hearing officer agrees that your child’s behavior stems from their disability, the school will not be able to expel your child. The hearing must be held within 20 school days of the date you request the hearing. The hearing officer must make a decision within ten school days after the hearing.
If you appeal, your child will stay at the other school until the hearing officer makes a decision. However, your child cannot stay at the other school for more than 45 school days even if it takes the hearing officer longer to make a decision, unless you and the State or local educational agency agree otherwise.
If the school thinks it is too dangerous to send your child back to the school, it must ask for an expedited due process hearing. The hearing would happen within 20 school days of the hearing request. The school would have to persuade an independent hearing officer that returning your child to their old school would be very likely to result in injury to your child or others. The hearing officer must make a decision within ten school days after the end of the hearing.
If your child comes home and tells you they are going to be expelled, call the school to make sure this is true. Remember, the school cannot expel your child without holding a “manifestation determination review” and an expulsion hearing.
When you receive written notice that the school is thinking about expelling your child and that it is holding a “manifestation determination review,” you should attend this meeting. You can prevent a school expulsion hearing by persuading the IEP team that your child’s behavior stems from their disability. You can argue that your child’s behavior was because of your child’s disability. Or you can argue that your child’s behavior was a because the school’s failure to implement your child’sIEP .
If the school decides that your child’s misconduct does not stem from their disability at the “manifestation determination review,” you can appeal the decision by requesting an expedited due process hearing.
If the school decides to expel your child after the “manifestation determination review,” the school must hold an expulsion hearing so you can tell your child’s “side of the story.” At the hearing, you can:
Even if your child committed the misconduct, at the hearing you can give reasons why you believe your child should not be expelled. Before expelling a student, a school district must at least consider a number of factors. At the hearing, you can:
In Chicago, there is an alternative for expulsion, called the SMART program. SMART stands for “Saturday Morning Alternative Reach-Out and Teach.” Students in the SMART program:
If your child attends a public school in Chicago, at the expulsion hearing, you can ask that they go to the SMART program instead of being expelled. If your child is admitted to the SMART program, it is important to make sure they attend all classes. If your child misses any classes, they will be expelled from school, usually for one semester.
If the school decides to expel your child at the expulsion hearing, you can appeal the decision by filing an internal appeal and/or going to state court. Please consult a lawyer about how to file an appeal in state court.
· When the school decides that your child’s behavior does not stem from their disability at the “manifestation determination review.”
When the school places your child in an interim alternative educational setting, or alternative school, for up to 45 school days.
An expedited due process hearing must take place within 20 days of the request. The hearing officer must issue a decision within ten school days after the end of the due process hearing.
A due process hearing must result in a decision within 45 days after the Illinois State Board of Education receives your request for a hearing.
The first step:
The second step is the resolution meeting:
The final step is a due process hearing:
A parent’s attorney may be responsible for paying the school district’s attorney’s fees if they file a frivolous or unreasonable lawsuit. Parents may have to pay the fees if the lawsuit was presented for an improper purpose, such as to harass or cause unnecessary delay or needlessly increase the cost of litigation.
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