Toolbox Tuesday!! Counting to 10 and the dilemma of ISS….

I did a Toolbox presentation a couple of weeks ago and made an observation that I had never made before. I found the reaction interesting.  We were talking about Tool #7--the FAPE-Free Zone.  The FFZ refers to those 10 days during the school year when a principal has unilateral authority to remove a student from the classroom the IEP calls for.  We all know that a day of “out of school suspension” has to be counted as one of the 10. But what about “in-school suspension” (ISS)?

The federal law on this is silent and the commentary to the regulations is murky at best.  This led me to say something out loud that I don’t think I’ve ever said before.  I said “special ed directors usually want you to count the days spent in ISS. Campus administrators don’t want to count it.” 

Heads nodded all over the room.  It was like I had just said something that everyone knew, but no one had ever said out loud.

There are pros and cons to counting the ISS days.  If you include them in your 10-day count, you will get to 10 quicker, but you won’t have to worry about some TEA investigator, hearing officer or judge later reprimanding you for changing a child’s placement without going through proper procedure.  If you decide not to count the ISS days, your principals and A.P.s will have a bit more flexibility in dealing with a disruptive student. But you may be vulnerable to an adverse legal ruling in the future.

The most important thing about this is for district officials to be honest, open and consistent with each other.  Are you going to count the days or not?  Decide.  Don’t let there be an unspoken, unacknowledged disconnect between the special ed department and the campus.

This is just one of the fun things we talk about in the Toolbox Training—a full day designed to give your staff a greater sense of confidence in navigating the complex waters of IDEA and student discipline. 


Tomorrow: The teacher who tweeted President Trump.