Discipline for Students Protected Under Section 504
General School Responsibilities Related to Discipline of Students with Section 504 Plans When suspending a student with a Section 504 Plan, school staff should follow suspension procedures used for nondisabled students, along with the exceptions indicated below. Since Section 504 is first and foremost antidiscrimination legislation, a harsher sanction than a nondisabled peer would receive for the same misconduct is prohibited discrimination.
Suspension for 10 Days or Less
An Assistant Principal may suspend a student with a Section 504 Plan for cause, for not more than 10 school days per year, regardless of disability (days are cumulative per school year). Educational services do not have to be provided to students with disabilities during the first 10 days of removal if they are not provided to students without disabilities. A Manifestation Determination meeting does not need to be held for a suspension less than 10 days (cumulative or consecutive).
Suspension For More Than 10 School Days
After an incident occurs, it is the school administrator’s responsibility to determine if there was a conduct violation in accordance with BOE Policy 5600. Should the administrator determine the student was responsible for a conduct violation, the administrator must then decide if he/she is recommending a consequence that will result in a suspension in excess of 10 school days (either consecutive or cumulative). If so, the school must convene a Section 504/I&RS Team meeting for a manifestation determination before the Assistant Principal holds the extended suspension conference.
Section 504/I&RS Team Manifestation Determination Responsibilities
The Section 504/I&RS Team should immediately schedule a manifestation determination meeting when directed by the Assistant Principal. The manifestation determination meeting must be held no later than 10 school days after taking the disciplinary action. The 10-day notice for a Section 504/I&RS Team meeting does not apply to manifestation determination meetings because of the need to expedite the meeting. The parent/guardian may be provided advance notice of the meeting through a telephone call to notify him or her of the date, time, location, and purpose of the meeting. The telephone call should be followed by written notification of the meeting.
The Section 504/I&RS Team completes the Section 504 Manifestation Determination Report form to document the Section 504/I&RS Team’s discussion and decisions regarding the relationship between the student’s disability or suspected disability (if in process of initial or reevaluation) and the behavior subject to the disciplinary action. The administrator states the Code of Conduct violation that resulted in the suspension. The Section 504/I&RS Team must answer the following two questions:
- Is the conduct in question caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student’s disability; or
- Is the conduct in question a direct result of the school’s failure to implement the Section 504 Plan?
The conduct shall be determined to be a manifestation of the student’s disability if the Section 504/I&RS Team makes the determination that either of the two criteria listed above are applicable for the student.
If the team determines the behavior is not a manifestation of the student’s disability:
- The student may be disciplined as any other general education student.
- The school system may cease educational services during the periods of disciplinary removal that exceed 10 school days if nondisabled students in similar circumstances do not continue to receive educational services.
If the team determines the behavior is a manifestation of the student’s disability:
- The suspension or expulsion will be terminated and the student will return to his or her educational program. The Section 504/I&RS Team may consider any revisions to the student’s Section 504 Plan and should convene an ‘Interim Review’ meeting as soon as possible to consider modification to the accommodations to adjust the 504 plan.
- If the Assistant Principal feels that despite the manifestation determination, the student continues to be a danger to himself/herself or others, the Assistant Principal should immediately contact the Supervisor of Wellness for assistance.
Discipline for Students with Section 504 Plans Who Use Drugs or Alcohol
Under Section 504, current untreated drug or alcohol abuse is not considered a disability. This exclusion does not extend to a student who:
- Has successfully completed a supervised drug rehabilitation program and is no longer engaging in the illegal use of drugs, or has otherwise been rehabilitated successfully and is no longer engaging in such use; or
- Is participating in a supervised rehabilitation program and no longer engaging in such use.
Conversely, a student currently engaging in the abuse of drugs or alcohol is not entitled to Section 504 protections, including a manifestation determination meeting. NHRHS may take disciplinary action pertaining to the use or possession of illegal drugs or alcohol against any student with a disability who currently is engaging in the illegal use of drugs or in the use of
alcohol to the same extent that such disciplinary action is taken against students who are not individuals with disabilities.
Possession, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs does not result in a loss of protections under Section 504 unless the student is currently using drugs. In such cases, a manifestation determination meeting is held.
- Students with Section 504 Plans who are suspended beyond 10 days, related to conduct that is determined by the Section 504/I&RS Team to not be a manifestation, do not have to be provided FAPE.
- Any days the student was excluded from educational services count toward the 10-day limit.
- The Assistant Principal will provide parents with appropriate documentation after any disciplinary determination is made.
- Parents will be provided with the Section 504 Parental Rights document at the beginning of a manifestation determination meeting.