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Are the Rules About
My son, who has a learning disability, is in trouble at school. It seems that one boy brought a bottle of root beer to school and shared it with my son and another boy. The student who brought the bottle to school mentioned that root beer may contain alcohol.
After hearing that root beer may contain alcohol, my son notified school officials during lunch (about two hours after the incident).
During the investigation, it was alleged that my son had a drink of root beer. The school expelled all three boys and is trying to expel them for an entire semester.
We requested a Manifestation hearing and appeal. Because of this, my son has remained in school.
I read your notes in the discipline section of USC 1415 which seems to say that the school cannot punish my son as they plan to do.
I have consulted with an attorney who has experience with other types of special education law but not with discipline. Can you cite cases or other administrative findings that support your comments? If I have solid information to take to the school heaing, I may be able to put an end to this episode.
This incident occurred less than two weeks after my son entered high school. For any student, such severe punishment is uncalled for. For a child with serious learning disabilities, this type of "discipline" may cause him to drop out and end his chances for an education.
Zero Tolerance Policies: Defining Deviancy Down
The situation you describe is absurd and can have tragic consequences for children like your son. Recently, Pam read an article by former New York Senator Daniel Moynihan about "defining deviancy down." This concept applies to the "zero tolerance" policies that many school administrators have embraced.
Schools administrators are supposed to maintain a safe school environment - and keep guns out of schools. But because they have "defined deviancy down," they are suspending and expel kids for bringing plastic knives in lunchboxes, water pistols in backpacks, tiny plastic toy guns from gumball machines - and for drinking root beer.
Weapons and Illegal Drugs
your son bring a weapon to school? No.
Bringing a weapon or illegal drugs to school is the basis for placing a child in an alternative placement for up to 45 days. During the 45 day alternative placement, schools must continue to provide IDEA children with a free appropriate education. The law is very clear about this.
is a hot topic. In
article you read, I added comments to the "plain language" of the
Caselaw About Discipline
In 1988, the U. S. Supreme Court issued a strong decision on behalf of children with disabilities who were being suspended and expelled from school in Honig v. Doe, 484 U. S. 305 (1988).
1. Get a copy of our book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law. The book includes a more comprehensive discussion of discipline issues. Wrightslaw: Special Education Law also includes a casebook of decisions from the U. S. Supreme Court, including Honig v. Doe. You may want to order two copies - one for yourself and one for your attorney.
3. Get an independent evaluation of your son by a private sector expert - child psychologist. (Ask around to see who has a good reputation for doing quality evaluations on kids.)
son have other problems, i.e., ADHD? Is the school teaching your son the
skills he will need as an adult?
to find a copy of "Discipline in the School" by Eric Hartwig and Gary
Ruesch, was published in 1994 by LRP Publications. This the best book
I've read about this area of law and will be very helpful to you and your
"Regrettably, the strongest force against developing alternatives to traditional discipline is inertia, since everything that is done now is based on what was done in the past."
(We planned to add "Discipline in the School" to the Advocate's Bookstore but it seems to be out of print.) If you call LRP (800-341-7874), they may have a few extra copies available.
4. Search the website for information about discipline, expulsion, and suspensions.