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Expert Q&A

Is it okay to suspend a student over and over again for the same non-threatening, non-violent offense?

Can a school suspend a student for ten days for one specific offense and then a month later suspend him for another six days for a similar offense, and then two months later suspend him for nine days for a different offense, and so on throughout the academic year?

The school indicated that they could suspend the student for up to ten days for each successive incident of misbehavior without a manifestation hearing since the suspensions were not more than ten days each. They offered an in-home tutor.

These incidents involved insubordination and did not involve a threat of harm to self or others, (e.g., threat or physical aggression, hand gun, illegal substances, etc.)

Dr Castoro
St. Charles

Your question concerns the rules applying to whether a school can suspend a child multiple times in an amount which cumulatively exceeds the ten school day limit on suspensions occurring without the exclusion being treated as a change of placement, triggering the IDEA and 504 disciplining safeguards.

Under IDEA and Section 504, the rules have traditionally required schools to count the total number of days to suspensions. If the total days exceeded ten days in the aggregate and were either close in time or reflective of the pattern of similar behavior, the total number of days of suspension could not exceed ten school days.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, under the new IDEA 2004 rules, the school need only treat a suspension as triggering the ten day safeguards if the behaviors are part of a pattern and are close together in time. 34 CFR § 300.536 (a).

Moreover, it is up to the IEP team/administration to make the determination. 34 CFR § 300.536 (b)(l).

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