A. Out-of-School Suspension for Less Than Ten School Days
1. In any disciplinary case deemed to warrant a single suspension of not more than ten school days, a student who is disabled under Section 504 may be suspended in accordance with the Charles County Public Schools disciplinary procedures.
2. If a suspension is for 10 days or fewer, but because of other suspensions the student has been subject to suspensions whose total exceeds 10 days per school year, then the Section 504 Team must determine whether the suspension contributes to a “pattern of exclusion.” There is no automatic cut-off at which cumulative non-consecutive days of suspension constitute a change in placement. Rather, a case-by-case analysis must be made, in which the Section 504 Team should consider the following factors:
a. The length of each suspension;
b. The proximity of the suspensions to each other; and
c. The total number of days in which the student has been excluded from school.
3. If agreed that a “pattern of exclusion” does not exist, the Section 504 Team must then review the student’s current plan to determine its appropriateness to meet the student’s needs. The plan may, but need not be, limited to revision of goals and objectives, addition of a behavior plan, and/or accommodations.
The Office of Civil Rights has given the following examples to aid in the Section 504 Team’s decision-making as to whether or not there is a pattern of exclusion: A series of suspensions that, in the aggregate, are for 10 days or fewer are not a significant change in placement. On the other hand, if a child is suspended several times during a school year for 8 or 9 days at a time, that would be considered a significant change in placement.
B. Out-of-School Suspension for More than Ten Cumulative School Days
1. Although there is no automatic cut-off at which cumulative non-consecutive suspension days constitute a change in placement, it is recommended that a student disabled under Section 504 not be suspended out-of-school for more than ten (10) cumulative non- consecutive school days per year unless:
a. The Section 504 Team has convened a reevaluation/manifestation meeting and has determined the conduct which prompted the disciplinary action was not a manifestation of the disability and the student’s parents have not appealed that determination; or
b. The student’s parents have agreed to an alternative or interim placement; or
c. There is a genuine emergency and efforts are pending to revise the child’s educational program in order to deal with the misbehavior problem; or
d. The Section 504 Team has determined, after consideration of all relevant factors, that the suspension(s) do not create a pattern of exclusion that significantly impacts upon the student’s program, and the student’s parents have not appealed the determination.
2. A student who is disabled under Section 504 who is suspended for more than 10 school days for misconduct that is not a manifestation of his or her disability is not entitled to educational services during the period of exclusion if non-disabled students in similar circumstances do not continue to receive educational services.
3. An expulsion is considered a significant change in the student’s placement which requires the school to convene a reevaluation/manifestation team.
a. The team should be made up of school or district level personnel who have relevant expertise or personal knowledge about the child. Individuals responsible for school disciplinary decisions may serve as a member of the team.
b. The team must have recent relevant data available to it, such as:
1. information presented by parents
2. classroom observations
3. teacher reports
4. SST/504 minutes
5. behavior plans
6. disciplinary records
7. medical information
8. recent evaluation data related to behavior
C. Alternative Placements/In-School Suspensions
Alternative classroom placements and in-school disciplinary procedures do not constitute a change in placement with students who are disabled under Section 504. These procedures include the use of sturdy-carrels, time-out, detention, or the restriction of privileges. In-school suspensions may be used provided the student’s program while in an in-school suspension is comparable in nature and quality to the program regularly provided for the student.