If your child has been recommended for expulsion, an expulsion hearing must be held within 30 school days after the date the principal or the superintendent of schools determines that your child has committed any of the acts that violate the California Education Code. You and your child are entitled to request one postponement of the expulsion hearing, but that postponement cannot last more than 30 days. Within 10 days of the conclusion of that hearing, the school board must decide whether to expel your child, unless you request in writing that the decision be postponed.
The above circumstances are in the case of a general education student only. When a child is receiving special education services, an additional step is added into the process described above: That step is called a Manifestation Determination.
Manifestation Determination Meeting
If your child is a special education student and is found to have violated the California Education Code, a school district is required to set up an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting which is to serve as a Manifestation Determination. A school district is also required to provide a special education student with a manifestation determination when that student has been suspended for ten or more school days within a single school year, as that is considered a change of placement.
A school district must conduct a manifestation determination within 10 school days of a decision to change the placement of a pupil with a disability due to a violation of the code of student conduct. The manifestation determination team must consist of a school district representative, the parents, and relevant members of the IEP team as determined by the parent and the school district.
Once this team has been assembled, the team must review all relevant information in the file of your child, including the IEP, any observations of teachers, and any relevant information from the parents, to determine if the child’s conduct was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the child’s disability, or if the child’s conduct was the direct result of the district’s failure to implement the IEP.
If the IEP team decides that either of those two factors applies, then the conduct must be determined to be a manifestation of the child’s disability. If it is determined to be a manifestation, your child cannot be expelled, and the school district is required to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment of that child in order to provide further behavior interventions in the area related to the underlying incident. If the team determines that the child’s conduct was not a manifestation of his or her disability, the district may apply to the disabled child the same disciplinary procedures, in the same manner and for the same duration, as would be applied to a general education student.
It is very important that you understand the manifestation determination process. For most children who are students on an IEP, the decision is made that the conduct was a manifestation of the child’s disability. If you are not aware of your legal rights, the school district may go forward and expel your child.
Valerie Aprahamian and Advocates for Angels have represented many special education students who have been suspended or expelled due to behavior that was caused by their disability, including but not limited to autism, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder and depression.
If you are going to a manifestation determination meeting or your child has been suspended or expelled, contact Advocates for Angles as soon as possible. You and your child have rights you may not be aware of, and you only have a limited amount of time to address this situation.