Public School Students who have been diagnosed with a recognized learning disability are awarded additional rights pursuant to IDEA.  Therefore, when a school tries to implement a punishment against a protected student with a learning disability, the law provides that student with procedural safeguards before the school may impose the punishment.

In order for the student to receive the full protection of the IDEA, a number of elements must be satisfied:

1. the student must have been diagnosed with a recognized learning disability and the school must be aware of that diagnosis.

2. the school must allege that the student violated a rule listed in the student handbook and seek a change of placement for the violation.

3. the school must have implemented a change of placement for that student based on the alleged rules violation.

Change of placement includes 10 day suspension, expulsion, etc.

4. the rules violation was a manifestation of the student’s disability.

This element essentially requires that the rules violation was directly caused by or substantially related to the student’s disability.  This element is assessed at the “determination hearing.”

5. no special circumstances exist.

This element means that the rules violation did not involve drugs, weapons, or serious bodily injury to another student.  If one of those circumstances are present, the student still has procedural safeguards guaranteed to him under IDEA, but those rights are much more limited and the school is given much more latitude for its disciplinary options.