Skip to main content

Expert Q&A

What are some legal strategies to help a child with a disability who is being punished for behavior related to their disability?

My daughter with learning disabilities was isolated in the classroom as a punishment for having difficulty focusing. Recently, she reported that she was threatened with being sent to the principal’s office because she didn’t ask for help with a math assignment. She is very intimidated by this resource room teacher who frequently yells at her.

My daughter doesn’t have behavior problems, but is struggling with her LD in math. We have had numerous meetings with the principle and teachers. Is there legal protection for a disabled child in the classroom being treated in a punitive way?


Dear Sheryl,

Your concern that your child is being punished by the resource teacher due to her difficulty in focusing, which may be related to her disability, which you indicate is a learning disability in math. While your note indicates that your daughter does not have behavioral problems, difficulty in focusing is a behavior which may be due to her already diagnosed issues or to a separate undiagnosed disability.

In addition, if your child is being sent to the principal for problems she is having in the resource room, it would be appropriate for you to request an IEP meeting for the purpose of developing a positive behavioral plan which will assist her with the behavior that is leading to her being disciplined. You may also request that the school district perform a functional behavioral analysis and develop a behavior intervention plan to deal with the difficulties in focusing and any other problems that are contributing to her being sent to the principal’s office.

In addition, from the circumstances that you describe, it is possible that your child’s teacher is not using the appropriate techniques to address her math disability. It may be appropriate to review her IEP to analyze if different or more appropriate strategies could be implemented to address the math problem.

You may wish to consult with an outside educational specialist or clinical psychologist to review her program and the strategies that are being used in the resource room to assist her to come up with additional ways to address this problem.

Back to Top