The Toolbox provides a framework and a common vocabulary to help school administrators sort through the complex legal requirements that apply to the discipline of students with disabilities. Today we discuss Tool #6—a disciplinary change of placement.
Districts can propose a disciplinary change of placement when 1) a student violates the code of conduct; 2) the disciplinary penalty called for by the code involves a long term removal to DAEP or JJAEP; and 3) the behavior is not a manifestation of the student’s disability.
For example, suppose that a student assaults another student or teacher. If a general education student committed this offense, the student would normally be assigned to the DAEP for more than ten consecutive school days. For a student with a disability, an assignment of that length amounts to a “change of placement.” Thus the ARDC must be involved.
Tool #6 involves a two-step process. First, campus administrators provide due process and make a determination as to whether or not the student violated the code of conduct. If the administrator determines that the student did violate the code, the matter then goes to step two: an ARDC meeting.
The ARDC’s function is twofold. First, the ARDC makes the manifestation determination. If the behavior is a manifestation of the student’s disability, Tool #6 cannot be used. Tool #6 is a disciplinary change of placement. It is the application of the penalty called for by the code of conduct. It is punitive. Therefore, it should not be used if the ARDC determines that the behavior is a manifestation. The ARDC may consider the use of Tools 2 and 3, which we discussed earlier, but not Tool #6.
The second thing the ARDC does is to make sure that the student will continue to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Even if the offense is a so-called “mandatory DAEP” offense, the ARDC must examine the student’s IEP, review what is available in the DAEP, and make any necessary tweaks, adjustments and modifications. We should not be saying things like: “we don’t offer that at the DAEP”—not when the student’s IEP requires it.
The law anticipates that students with disabilities are held accountable for misbehavior to the same extent as all students are. But we still take into account how the disability affects the student’s behavior. We do manifestation determinations to make sure that we are not punishing a student for having a disability. The main purpose of a manifestation determination is to make sure we are not discriminating on the basis of disability. We also want to make sure that disciplinary action does not have the effect of depriving the student of needed services.
Tool #6, properly used, enables educators to do all of that. It enables you to enforce your code of conduct in a fair and evenhanded way, while assuring that no one is discriminated against, and no one is deprived of needed services.
Next Tuesday we will take a look at Tool #7: the FAPE Free Zone!
DAWG BONE: A DISCIPLINARY CHANGE OF PLACEMENT CAN BE IMPLEMENTED WHEN THE BEHAVIOR IS NOT A MANIFESTATION OF DISABILITY AND THE SCHOOL CAN STILL PROVIDE APPROPRIATE SERVICES.