It’s Toolbox Tuesday! Tell us about Tool #8.

The Toolbox is designed to help school administrators comply with our special education laws, while maintaining a safe and orderly environment for all students.   This week we focus on Tool #8: a short term removal that goes beyond the FAPE Free Zone.

School administrators can unilaterally remove a student from the classroom in which the IEP places the student for disciplinary reasons, but only for a cumulative total of ten school days in the year. This is what we call the FAPE Free Zone (Tool #7, discussed last Tuesday).   Life gets complicated after that.  However, school administrators retain the authority to order short term removals of a student even after the FAPE Free Zone is exhausted, provided that they do it in the right way.

If a principal orders a disciplinary removal after 10 days of removal, she must consider whether or not the cumulative action amounts to a “change of placement”; and 2) provide any necessary services, after consultation with one of the child’s teachers.  Thus there is a change in the school’s legal duty once you get past the FFZ.

Here is a quote from the regulations that authorizes short term removals by a school administrator even after your 10 days have been exhausted:

School personnel under this section may remove a child with a disability who violates a code of student conduct from his or her current placement to an interim alternative educational setting, another setting, or suspension, for not more than 10 consecutive school days (to the extent those alternatives are applied to children without disabilities, AND FOR ADDITIONAL REMOVALS OF NOT MORE THAN 10 CONSECUTIVE SCHOOL DAYS IN THAT SAME SCHOOL YEAR FOR SEPARATE INCIDENTS OF MISCONDUCT (AS LONG AS THOSE REMOVALS DO NOT CONSTITUTE A CHANGE OF PLACEMENT UNDER 300.536).  34 CFR 300.530(b)(1).

Notice four things about this federal regulation:

1. It authorizes “school personnel” to do this—not the IEP Team (ARD).  The term “school personnel” refers to the campus administrator.

2. The first part of the regulation is describing the FAPE Free Zone, Tool #7.

3. The second part, which we put in BOLD CAPS, is where we find Tool #8.  Notice that it speaks of “additional” removals due to a “separate” incident of misconduct within the same school year.

4. Your use of this tool is contingent on it not being a change of placement.

Here’s where Tool #8 is most commonly used: a student commits an offense that calls for long term removal to the DAEP.  This would definitely be a change of placement, and thus an ARDC meeting is necessary.  The principal thinks it best that the student be removed from the student’s regular classroom pending the ARDC meeting, but the ten days have already been used up. What to do?

The principal can use Tool #8 to order a short term removal.  However, he has to consult with one of the student’s teachers about how services will be delivered to the student during this short period of time. Remember: these days are not FAPE Free—and thus the student must be served in some way.

Tool #8 is complicated, and we spend a considerable amount of time reviewing it to ensure understanding in our Toolbox workshops. We also practice with hypothetical cases so that participants can see how this tool works in practice.   I will be presenting the Toolbox in Region 3 tomorrow, Region 10 on Thursday, and Region 7 on October 29.

If you are interested in a Toolbox workshop, contact me at, or Haley Armitage at