Toolbox Tuesday: OSERS Q and A continued…

Today we take a look at Section B of the Q and A recently issued by the Department of Education regarding the discipline of students with disabilities. Section B is very short as it provides an “overview” of the rules and regulations. As an overview, this section is very general, but I noticed three things that are worth mentioning.

First, IDEA simply does not address disciplinary consequences that do not result in exclusion from the classroom. OSEP tells us that schools can use “loss of privileges, after-school detention, or performing community service.” IDEA is concerned about disciplinary practices that remove the student from the classroom in which the IEP places the student.

Second, the Q and A advises that physical restraint should never be used as a disciplinary measure. That does not mean that schools can never use restraint. It means that restraint should be used as an emergency measure, rather than as a form of correction or punishment. This is consistent with Texas law, although it might be relevant that OSEP believes that physical restraint should be used only to prevent “serious physical harm” to the student or others. Texas law expands that to include the prevention of serious property damage.

Third, Question B-1 is the first time in this Q and A that we see the term “interim alternative educational setting” (IAES). Campus administrators should get used to that term. The law authorizes campus administrators to assign a student to an IAES in the event of a “special circumstances” offense. In the Toolbox, we call this Tool #5. Oftentimes campus administrators assign students to the DAEP, but that’s a mistake. The DAEP is a particular kind of IAES, and perhaps it is the only one you have in your district. But the selection of the right IAES for each student is up to the ARDC. So principals, when using Tool #5, should be saying: “I am assigning the student to an IAES and calling for an ARDC meeting so that the ARDC can select the IAES.”

That may sound like a waste of time if your district has nothing to offer other than the DAEP. But it’s not. Even if the DAEP is the only option, the ARDC needs to analyze the student’s IEP, compare it with the services currently available at the DAEP, and, if necessary, tweak, bolster, supplement and support the DAEP to provide services that will enable the student to continue to progress on IEP goals.

Next week we’ll move on to Section C of the Q and A to discuss “change in placement.”


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Tomorrow: clarification on what “be reasonable” means