Is your child’s school disciplining them for a disability?

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2023 | Education Law |

Schools do need to have rules to maintain order, and it is important for students to follow them. This is true for all students, even those who may have a specialized education plan or special needs that have to be met by the learning institution. They still do have to follow basic rules or face ramifications like suspensions or expulsion.

However, for students with a learning disability or a behavioral disability, this can become problematic. Is the student being punished because of their behavior or are they being punished because of their disability? It can be a hard line to define, but it’s a very important one to consider.

What is a manifestation?

There’s an issue called “manifestation” that may be taking place. This is the term used when a child misbehaves, but it is directly caused by a learning disability or thinking difference. The child is not necessarily misbehaving because they want to or because they’re choosing to break the rules, as other students may, but because of the disability itself.

There are protections that may apply if the behavior is a manifestation of that disability. The school then works to determine why it happened and what could be done to fix the behavior. They may create a behavior intervention plan (BIP). They come up with this plan after carrying out a functional behavior assessment (FBA). Ideally, the student will be able to return to the school and will get the assistance that they need to make the transition go smoothly.

But there are some situations in which parents believe that their student is being punished due to their disability, rather than their behavior. Those in this situation must know about all the legal options they have.