Generally, school discipline procedures and policies under Maryland law apply to students with disabilities. However, there are also special rules for special education students. Learn more about school disciplinary procedures generally.
Law Enforcement Referral - Note that a public agency may report a crime committed by a student with a disability to appropriate law enforcement authorities.
Students Not Yet Eligible for Special Education - A student who has not yet been identified as a student with a disability may assert the protections of the special rules for students with disabilities if the public agency had knowledge that the student was a student with a disability before the student engaged in the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action.
Local Procedures - Procedures and policies may vary by county. Check with your local school to see if special rules apply in your county.
Read the regulations: Code of Md. Regulations, Title 13A, Subtitle 8, Chapter 3
An IEP is the “individualized educational program,” which is a written statement for a student with disability.
An IEP team is the group of individuals responsible for identifying and evaluating students with disabilities; developing, reviewing, or revising an individualized education program (IEP) for a student with disabilities; and determining the placement of a student with a disability in the least restrictive environment.
A public agency means the state or local government or quasi-government entity responsible for providing free public education to students with disabilities. This can include local school systems, the SEED School, the Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland Department of Health, the Department of Juvenile Services, the Maryland School for the Blind, the Maryland School for the Deaf, and the Maryland Department of Labor.
Read the regulations: Code of Md. Regulations 13A.05.01.03
Change of Placement
A removal is a change of placement if the student is removed from the student’s current placement for more than 10 consecutive school days or the student has a series of removals that constitute a pattern of removal that accumulates to more than 10 school days in a school year.
To determine if the removal constitutes a pattern of removals, the IEP team must consider the length of each removal, the total amount of time the student is removed, and the proximity of the removals to one another.
If a change of placement applies or is suspected, then see the procedures below for suspensions of special education students for more than 10 days.
Suspensions of Less Than 10 Days
A student with a disability may be removed from their current placement for up to 10 consecutive school days for any violation of school rules in the same way as students without disabilities.
Unless it is determined that the removal is a change of placement, students can be moved to another educational setting, such as another classroom, or suspended.
If school policy does not provide education services to regular education students during this suspension, then special education students are also not entitled to education services during a short-term suspension.
Suspensions of More Than 10 Days
A student with a disability may be suspended for more than 10 consecutive school days for a violation to the same extent suspension is applied with students without disabilities if the student’s IEP team determines that the behavior subject to the removal is not a manifestation of the student’s disability.
Manifestation Determination - When the school system seeks to suspend a special education student for more than 10 days, the student’s IEP team must meet within 10 school days of the student's removal from school. At this meeting, the IEP team determines if the student’s behavior is related to the child’s disability or not.
- Disability Related Behavior - If the IEP team determines that the behavior is related to the student’s disability, the student should return to school immediately unless the parent and public agency agree to a change of placement as part of a modification of the student’s behavioral intervention plan.
- Behavior NOT Related to the Disability - If the IEP team determines that the behavior is not related to the child’s disability, the student is subject to the regular discipline procedures. The superintendent or someone from the superintendent’s office will decide whether the student will be suspended for more than 10 days or expelled. The student will also continue to receive educational services in another setting so they can continue to be educated and meet the goals of their IEP.
- If Drugs or Weapons are Involved - Regardless of whether the conduct is related to the disability, if the incident for which the student is being disciplined involves a dangerous weapon or a controlled substance, the school system can place a special education student in an alternative education setting for up to 45 days.
Within the first 10 days of the suspension, the IEP team is also required to develop a behavior plan for the student going forward.
During any suspension that is more than 10 days, a special education student must be provided the services that are set out in the student’s IEP.
Appeal - Parents have the right to request mediation or a hearing if they disagree with any decision by the IEP Team, including the decision about whether the student’s behavior is related to his or her disability. The student remains in the interim alternative educational setting pending the decision on the appeal or until the set expiration of the interim alternative educational setting, whichever occurs first. However, the parents/guardians and the public agency can agree on another course of action.
Evaluation Request - If the student has not been previously identified as eligible for special education services, the parents may request an evaluation, and that evaluation must be expedited during the suspension or expulsion period.