Toolbox Tuesday!! What is ISS?

The Toolbox is our firm’s one-day training program regarding disciplinary options with students who have disabilities.  The goal is to serve all students appropriately, while maintaining a safe and orderly campus.  One of the issues we talk about is the ten-day rule, and the days that “count” toward that ten-day ceiling.  Inevitably the issue arises: do you have to count the days spent in ISS? 

You don’t have to worry about that issue if you simply eliminate ISS.  Is that possible?  I ask you to consider a few things. 

First, we have a “backwards” definition of ISS in the PEIMS.  It tells us that ISS “includes any setting that has not been addressed by an ARD Committee within the placement determination of the student’s current IEP.”  PEIMS Code C164-06.  That means that a student who is sent to the school library or the A.P.’s office and spends the better part of the day there is actually in ISS.  You may be sending students to ISS without realizing it.

But consider: what if the student is temporarily assigned to a setting that is approved by the ARDC as part of the student’s placement?  What if the ARDC declares that the use of such a temporary assignment is necessary for the provision of FAPE?  What if there are certain “guardrails” attached to this part of the IEP to ensure that it is not misused?  What if the district has good documentation to indicate parental agreement to this part of the student’s placement?

There are some districts that are doing this, with a reduction in the use of suspensions, both the in-school and the out-of-school variety.  In the Toolbox, we talk about how this might work. 

Caution: don’t even think about doing something like this unless you are prepared to create a unit that looks very different from a traditional ISS.  Think about creating a unit staffed by a certified teacher who is trained in social and emotional learning and restorative practices and can provide the kind of positive behavioral interventions, supports and strategies that can effectively address behaviors that impede learning.

The lawyers at Walsh Gallegos can help you think through such a plan.  And we can help with the creation of the necessary guardrails.  Let us hear from you if you are interested.


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

Tomorrow: T.E.A. jurisdiction….