It seems like children can get suspended for anything these days. While this can be frustrating for a parent who works full-time and must now juggle a child who is now needing to stay at home for a prolonged time, it also creates educational concerns for the child. If the child is not in school, they are not learning!
If you are a parent and are noticing that your child is getting frequently suspended from a public school, ask yourself this question, “Has it been more than 10 days?” If so, you may be able to work with the school on a solution beyond simply dolling out consequences to your child and/or asking them to behave in the future.
First, does your child have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? If not, take a look at what behaviors are leading to their suspensions. Are they acting out in class? Talking too much? Skipping school? Often, these behaviors can be signs of underlying learning disabilities. It may be worth reaching out to your child’s school and initiating the IEP referral process. To do this, you simply need to express in writing that you would like your child evaluated for an IEP. Once this written communication occurs, the school will have 90 days (in North Carolina) to present you with the evaluation. These 90 days do not stop for holidays, summer breaks, or weekends; no matter when you initiate the request and no matter what days fall in the 90 days, the 90-day deadline is strict and mandated by federal law (see the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
If the evaluation comes back and finds that your child needs an IEP, the specialized education plan can specifically target your child’s behavioral concerns and create a plan that will help them overcome those behaviors while helping place them in a learning environment that targets their individual needs. The plan is created with your child’s teachers, so the teachers will also be made aware of the child’s target behaviors and help them achieve those goals. Your child cannot be further suspended over those behaviors since a plan is now in place to target them under their individualized education plan.
If your child already has an IEP in place, a suspension of over 10 days or multiple suspensions that add up to a surplus of 10 days can trigger a “change of placement.” When a “change of placement” is triggered, this means that your child is entitled to continue educational services even during suspension. Depending on the circumstances, these continued educational services may be able to take place on school property so your child would not have to return home during the day. The 10-day rule also triggers a “manifestation determination meeting,” which means that your child will need to be reevaluated to see if the behaviors leading to the suspension are a new manifestation of their disability. If so, the suspensions must stop. A new behavioral plan will be created instead, with the intent to target the behaviors and correct them.
It is important to note that if your child’s behaviors are not related to a disability, these same protections will not apply. Further, if your child is enrolled in a private school, these same protections will not apply. However, it is important to have your child evaluated as there are a wide variety of disabilities and behaviors that can trigger the protections of an IEP.
If you believe your child’s rights are being violated, it’s crucial to take action. At King Law, we understand the importance of advocating for your child’s education and well-being. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you navigate the legal aspects of your situation. If your child has been suspended from school for more than 10 days, it’s time to reach out to us. We can assist you in understanding your options and finding a solution beyond simple consequences. Call us today at 888-748-KING (5464) to schedule a consultation.