Be sure to visit our Behavior Resources webpage for resources to address behavior issues in the IEP.
All schools maintain a code of conduct that outlines which types of student behavior are unacceptable and how students who engage in those behaviors will be disciplined. This is often included in the school building’s (or school district’s) student handbook. Students are required to follow school rules, but they also have certain rights under the law to be treated fairly. All students have the right to know what their school’s rules are. If a student breaks a rule, state law limits the ways the student may be disciplined. In addition, students who receive special education services have further protections under state and federal laws that guarantee their right to receive a free appropriate public education
- Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service Special Education Manual Suspension and Expulsion Chapter
- Behavior Support Resources Michigan Alliance for Families
- Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Discipline Requirements MDE
2017 Rethink Discipline Implementation
In 2017, Michigan’s state discipline code changed, ending zero tolerance and requiring that lesser interventions be considered. Michigan Department of Education has a toolkit to provides guidance on enacting changing culture in schools and addressing behavioral concerns using non-exclusionary methods.
The Student Advocacy Center of Michigan has gathered resources, including a summary of key law changes and worksheets to document what has been considered in discipline decisions.
Suspension and Expulsion
“De-facto Suspension” and “undocumented suspensions” refer students with disabilities being asked to go home or be signed out of school instead of the child being suspended. Sending a child with a disability home during the school day for not following school rules constitutes “de facto” suspension of a child from school. These days must be considered when determining whether a series of removals resulted in a change of educational placement or whether the child had been removed from school for more than ten cumulative days in a school year.
Shortened school days may not be used as a type of discipline.
Shortening a student’s school days is not an acceptable form of punishment. Students also can’t be required to “earn” their way back to a full school day by demonstrating good behavior. The school can’t demand that a student take medication or receive treatment, therapies, or other outside services.
Students with disabilities have a extra rights to a formal review of their behavior before long-term suspensions or expulsions. This is called a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR).
The purpose of this review is to determine whether or not the child’s behavior is linked to their disability, or because the IEP was not fully implemented. This is an important meeting, be aware that the district will proceed without the parent in attendance.
If a student with a disability has been suspended for more than ten days (ten days in a row, or ten days if days of suspension are added together), a MDR must be held.
- Manifestation Determination Review Form MDE
- Manifestation Determination NICHCY Legacy
- Handling a Manifestation Determination Review Wrightslaw
- Appeal of MDR
- Child’s Placement during Appeals Process
- Special Education Due Process Complaint Procedures MDE procedures regarding special education administrative due process hearings
- MAF Dispute Resources More on dispute resolution, State complaints, due process
Understanding the how and why of discipline in school settings (NICHCY Legacy)
- General Authority of School Personnel
- Discipline in Detail
- Applying Discipline Rules to Students With Disabilities
- Placement and School Discipline
- Placement in Alternative Educational Setting
- Q and A: Questions and Answers on Discipline Procedures US Dept of Education
- IDEA’s Regulations on Discipline NICHCY Legacy
- My Child is Facing Suspension or Expulsion Michigan Legal Help
- Contact Michigan Alliance for Families 1-800-552-4821
- Michigan Department of Education Help Line 1-888-320-8384
- Michigan Legal Help
- Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service 1-800-288-5923