The law provides that an IEP team may place a student in an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days, regardless of whether the student's behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the student's disability, under any of three "special circumstances."
It can often be a confusing thing for both students and parents to understand; when is a student considered to be "at school" for disciplinary purposes? A quick exploration of the California Education Code can lend some assistance in answering this question.
When a special education student is suspended for disciplinary reasons for more than 10 days, the suspension constitutes a change of placement. Relevant members of the IEP team must meet to determine whether the student's conduct was a manifestation of his disability. That determination must take place within 10 school days of the decision to change the placement.
Many parents face a similar dilemma with disciplinary action against their special needs child: We went to an IEP labeled a "manifestation determination," and the team said the child's behavior was not manifestation and my child is now being subjected to disciplinary action. Most have a million questions, but most prevalent is "why was the behavior not a manifestation?"
The situation seems hopeless. Your child was suspended for a violation of CA Education Code Section 48900, most likely for 5 days. To make matters worse, you were called into a meeting with the principal and other school personnel, and you were told that your child is being recommended for expulsion from the school district. You were given a date where an expulsion hearing would take place, and told you could have someone there to represent you and your child, but really what can anyone do?