The 16-page Dear Colleague letter from the US Department of Education on August 1, 2016, served as a reminder that “Under the IDEA, the primary vehicle for providing FAPE is through an appropriately developed individualized education program (IEP) that is based on the individual needs of the child. … In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, the IEP Team must consider — and, when necessary to provide FAPE, include in the IEP — the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies to address that behavior.”
The letter recognizes that disciplinary removal can be appropriate when used to protect the safety of students. However, it does not negate the obligation “to consider the implications of the child’s behavioral needs, and the effects of the use of suspensions (and other short-term removals) when ensuring the provision of FAPE.”
The impetus for this letter is two-fold: first, data suggests that disciplinary removal suggests that students with disabilities are not receiving the behavioral interventions and supports they need under their IEPs, and second, the high percentage of students with disabilities who have been subjected to disciplinary removal (10% in 2013-1014).
If your district is struggling to meet its obligations, PresenceLearning has a number of resources for you and your staff: