Toolbox Tuesday: What can be done “unilaterally”?

In our firm’s Toolbox Training we talk a lot about the word “unilateral.”  That’s because the Supreme Court used that word in the one and only case it has decided regarding special education and student discipline. The Court noted that Congress had “stripped” school officials of the “unilateral” powers they had traditionally used to remove students for disciplinary reasons.  In that same decision (Honig v. Doe) the Court gave its approval to removals for fewer than 10 days, cumulatively. That’s where we got the ten-day rule.

So ten days is the line of demarcation.  For ten school days in the course of the year, a campus administrator has “unilateral” authority to order the removal of the student from the placement called for by the IEP.  Anything that goes beyond those ten days has to involve other people. 

In Toolbox terminology the campus administrator has “unilateral” authority to use Tool #7—the removal of the student for fewer than 10 days, cumulatively, during the year.  We call that The FAPE-Free Zone.  Other tools can be employed for longer removals, but they cannot be accomplished “unilaterally.” 

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Tomorrow: does 504 spook you?