Toolbox Tuesday!! “It’s mandatory. Says so in Chapter 37.”

Is expulsion ever mandatory? Is DAEP ever mandatory? Of course that word does pop up in Chapter 37 of the Education Code. Our state law neatly divides student misconduct into those that call for a “mandatory” penalty vs. those that make the consequence “discretionary.” So it is not too surprising that many campus administrators use that language in talking to parents. “I have no choice in the matter. This is a mandatory offense. It’s automatic.”

Is it really?

The term “mandatory” has always been in an inherent conflict with IDEA. Loyal Readers of the Daily Dawg, and particularly Toolbox Tuesday, are well aware of how discipline works under IDEA. You will not find the word “mandatory” there at all. In fact, IDEA requires continued services to students with disabilities even after they have committed an offense which would normally call for expulsion. Furthermore, neither expulsion nor assignment to DAEP is available for the student whose behavior is a manifestation of disability. So there is nothing either “mandatory” or “automatic” if the student is in your special education program, or covered by Section 504.

As to the rest of the students, you have to consider T.E.C. 37.001(a)(4). It requires that “consideration will be given” to each of six factors when administrators are contemplating suspension, DAEP, expulsion or JJAEP. And here’s the kicker: it requires administrators to consider the six factors regardless of whether the decision concerns a mandatory or discretionary action.” (Emphasis added).

Those six factors are: self-defense, intent, disciplinary history, disability, being in the conservatorship of the state, or being homeless.

So nothing is “automatic” with student discipline; nothing is “mandatory for students with disabilities; and nothing is “mandatory” for general education students until the six factors are considered.


Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at

Tomorrow: do you have “getting by” skills in another language?