Discipline Procedures for Students Receiving Special Education Services

When a student in special education gets suspended or expelled, the school district must follow Washington State laws and regulations governing discipline for all students. At the same time, however, there are additional special education discipline protections for when school districts remove a student who is eligible, or deemed eligible, for special education from her/his educational placement. Thus, a student in special education may be involved in two processes simultaneously:

  1. General education discipline process, following the process, following the rules and procedures to address whether the student actually engaged in the misconduct, including any decisions about the length and type of removal; and
  2. Special education discipline rules and procedures to make decisions about whether a student will be removed from his or her current special education placement, and if so, the services that will be provided to the student.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with both the general education discipline timelines and procedures, and the special education procedures. For more information about general education discipline procedures, visit OSPI’s School Safety Center.

In general, students eligible for special education may not be removed from her or his educational placement for more than 10 school days in a row or be subjected to a series of removals that total more than 10 school days in a year. Removals of 10 days or more are considered to be a change of placement.

When a student is removed from her or his educational placement for more than 10 school days, a manifestation determination meeting must be held within 10 days of the removal. This meeting is to determine whether the student’s behavior was a manifestation of her/his disability. This determination is made by you, the district, and other relevant members of the IEP Team (as decided by you and the district). A manifestation determination meeting is a distinct process only for students in special education that is separate from any other general education disciplinary hearings or procedures.

The exception to the rule, however, is when your student’s misbehavior involves Special Circumstances – weapons, illegal drugs, or serious bodily injury. A manifestation determination meeting must still occur, however, your student may be removed for up to 45 school days regardless of whether your student’s behavior was a manifestation of her/his disability.

To understand more about the special education discipline rules and procedures, review the Special Education Discipline Flowchart and refer to the section on discipline procedures in the Notice of Special Education Procedural Safeguards.