When students are being assessed for special education, all of their areas of needs are supposed to be looked at– including behavior and socio-emotional needs. When an IEP is written it too is supposed to cover all areas of need– including those behavioral and socio-emotional needs. When IEP teams meet, they discuss how a student is doing in all areas and what supports and services the student needs to make progress in the areas where they are struggling.  For some students that might mean just a behavioral goal while for others it might mean a behavior support plan or therapeutic services.

When a low level behavior like not completing work or disrespect happens, the team doesn’t need to meet although team members might look at the current plan and brainstorm some new ideas.

Legal protections for students with special needs come into play for high level behaviors. Just like any other student, a student with special needs can be suspended or even expelled from a school. The difference is that when suspensions hit ten days or a behavior is expulsion worthy, the team needs to meet to hold a Manifest Determination meeting. At that meeting, the team will determine whether the behaviors are related to the disability, whether the IEP is being properly implemented, and if there are supports that are missing. What this means is that, in practice, while students with IEPs can be suspended and expelled, the process is much harder and the student has many more protections along the way.

To learn more about the rules governing the discipline of students with disabilities, check out this article.