There are some special circumstances for special education students, and some instances where they are treated the same as other students.
Special education federal laws states that a child with a disability be placed in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This often means that students who receive special education services are in the general population of students with specific accommodations.
First of all, Illinois state law does say that any child, even one with an IEP, can be suspended from school for ten days within a school year. After ten days, however, a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR) must be conducted to determine if the behavior that resulted in disciplinary action was directly caused by the disability. The MDR reviews the student’s IEP, the details of the incident, parent feedback, and further observation of the student. If the behavior that resulted in disciplinary action is determined to have resulted from the student’s disability, the district may not further discipline the student. However, if it is not, then the district can still suspend or expel the student.
This procedure is designed to protect students from being unfairly punished as a result of their disability. For example, if a child with Tourette ’s syndrome was repeatedly suspended for yelling out in class, this behavior would be a direct result of his disability and after ten suspended days the MDR would evaluate that. If the calling out was determined to directly result from the Tourette’s syndrome, the school district could not suspend the child more and would have to make other accommodations.
For example, the child might be removed for a period of no longer than 45 days to an Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES) capable of following the student’s IEP. This is only the case if the student’s misconduct involved a weapon, drugs, or bodily injury to another person. Parents can request an impartial expedited hearing if at any time they feel that their child’s rights are being violated.