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Public School Discipline and Children With Disabilities A Brief Guide for Parents (FAQs + Brochure)

Authored By: Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (Hammond Office) LSC Funded

FAQs About Public School Discipline and Children with Disabilities: A Brief Guide for Parents

When can schools discipline students? +

Schools can discipline students who violate the law or school rules, either at school, traveling to or from school, or at school-sponsored activities or functions. Know school rules!

What kind of things can the school do to my child? +

Public schools can discipline in many different ways. Schools can give:

  • Reprimands
  • Counseling
  • After-school sessions
  • Saturday sessions
  • Detentions
  • School bus or activity bans


More serious discipline can include:

  • Alternative Placements
  • Suspensions
  • Payment for damaged property
  • Reporting child as delinquent
  • Reporting crime to D.A.
  • Ordering drug or alcohol testing or treatment
  • Restraint, isolation, or corporeal punishment (within reason)
  • Expulsion

Can the school discipline my child who has a disability? +

Maybe. Having a disability doesn’t protect a child from all consequences.


But, the school must first see if your child misbehaved because of the disability, or because the school failed to properly implement an IEP or 504 plan. This is called a “manifestation determination.” If that’s why your child misbehaved, then the school is not supposed to make a “significant change in placement.” Instead, it should re-evaluate your child’s IEP or 504 plan, to better serve your child’s needs.

You have the right to appeal a “significant change in placement” by the school. You have the right to appeal the school’s decision that your child’s misbehavior was not caused by his disability or the school’s failure to implement his IEP or 504 plan. You have the right to appeal suspensions and expulsions.


My child is not on an IEP or 504 plan, but she keeps getting suspended. Does this mean they have a disability? +

Behavior problems at school can mean that your child has a health problem that has not been diagnosed, or that needs different treatment. If you think your child may have a disability, or need medical care, have your child evaluated. 


You can also ask the school to evaluate your child for special education services. If your child has a 504 plan or IEP, you can ask the school to reevaluate it. These plans should help your child get an education. If it’s not working, it should be changed.


My child seems to be punished because the principal doesn’t like me. What can I do? +

In a public school, you can appeal unfair or wrong discipline. Talk with an advocacy group. Maybe they can help mend fences with the school. If not, talk with a lawyer.

Download Public School Discipline and Children With Disabilities A Brief Guide for Parents

Last Review and Update: Dec 21, 2020