It’s Toolbox Tuesday! Tell us about the two “stay puts.”

The Toolbox is a set of 10 “tools” available to school administrators in dealing with disruptive or violent students with disabilities.  We have discussed each of these tools over the past 10 Tuesdays. Today, our topic is “stay put.”

There are actually two “stay put” rules—the traditional one for non-disciplinary changes, and a special one for disciplinary changes.  The traditional “stay put” rule is at 34 CFR 300.518:

Except as provided in Section 300.533, during the pendency of any administrative or judicial proceeding regarding a due process complaint notice requesting a due process hearing under Section 300.507, unless the State or local agency and the parents of the child agree otherwise, the child involved in the complaint must remain in his or her current educational placement.

So if the school proposes that a student should be moved from the regular, mainstream classroom into a life skills unit, and the parent challenges that decision, this traditional “stay put” rule would come into play.  During the due process hearing, the student would remain in the regular, mainstream classroom.

But notice that the traditional “stay put” rule begins with a reference to its exception, Section 300.533, which is the disciplinary removal “stay put” rule.  Here is what it says:

When an appeal under Section 300.532 has been made by either the parent or the LEA, the child must remain in the interim alternative educational setting pending the decision of the hearing officer or until the expiration of the time period specified in Section 300.530(c) or (g), whichever occurs first, unless the parent and the SEA or LEA agree otherwise.

An appeal “under Section 300.532” is an appeal of a disciplinary decision. So when the school calls for a disciplinary change of placement, and the parent disagrees with the school’s decision, the student does not “stay put” in the “current educational placement.”  The student “stays put” in the IAES (interim alternative educational setting).  The IAES is selected by the ARDC.  If the parent disagrees with the selection of the IAES, the parent can obtain an “expedited” hearing, but in the meantime, the student “stays put” in the IAES.  In Texas, we usually spell “IAES” as D.A.E.P.

Congress created the second “stay put” rule, and did it on purpose.  No doubt, this was in response to concerns from school administrators that the traditional “stay put” rule, when applied to a disciplinary situation, created the appearance of a dual disciplinary system.  Thus, Congress added the second “stay put” rule—the one that applies in disciplinary situations.