Toolbox Tuesday!! What’s “informal removal”?

I came across a news story in USA Today recently about what it called “informal removal” of students with disabilities. Apparently, there are principals who call the parents and ask them to come get the student and take them home. Could this be a legal issue?

You bet it could. We talk about this in connection with Tool #7 in the Toolbox Training. Tool #7 is The FAPE-Free Zone—those ten school days in which a student might be taken out of the placement called for by the IEP for disciplinary reasons. As long as there are no more than ten of those days in the school year, the student is in the FFZ and the school is still providing a FAPE. If a student is removed for an 11th day, the student has sailed beyond the FFZ and the situation gets complicated for the principal. We go over all of this in detail in the Toolbox Training.

One important part of complying with IDEA’s disciplinary rules is knowing how to count to ten. What days count? If the principal calls the parent and asks (or tells) the parent to take the student home, that day should be counted. Of course we are only referring to situations in which the phone call is prompted by student misconduct. If the student becomes ill while at school, that’s a different story. But if the student has disrupted school or in some way violated school rules and the principal reaches out to the parent with the message of “take this child home” that day should be counted as one of the ten. Euphemisms such as “informal removal” do not change the reality. If the school administration has caused the student to be pulled out of the placement called for by the IEP due to student misconduct, that’s effectively an out-of-school suspension. Count it.

I found it interesting that this obscure aspect of special education law has made it into the mainstream media. Who knows: maybe the term “FAPE-Free Zone” will appear next!


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Tomorrow: some great testimony from speech path and OT….