Parents' Guide to Suspensions and Expulsions: Procedures for Students with Disabilities

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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)

Suspensions of students with disabilities
Expulsions of students with disabilities
Requesting a due process hearing
Related Content

Suspensions of Students with Disabilities                

What is a suspension?

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:  

  • The suspensions total more than ten school days in a school year
  • The student’s behavior is substantially similar to the student’s behavior in previous incidents that resulted in suspension
  • The length of each removal
  • The total amount of time the child has been removed
  • The time between suspensions

If the student’s suspensions are a change of placement, the school must hold a manifestation determination review (MDR), which is described below.   

For what reasons may a school suspend a student with a disability?

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:

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:

Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation

What must the school do when suspending a student with a disability?


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