Connecticut has a
set of guidelines
for excused and unexcused absences that districts are expected to follow. If a student
reaches a high level of absences the district is required to take action. This includes
sending notices home and in chronic truancy levels, it may include a call to DCF regarding
Educational Neglect on the part of the family for failure to get the child to school. It
is important that families are aware of the expectation to get your child to school. If
disability or chronic illness is preventing the student from attending then you must know
what type of documentation is needed for excused absences and to ensure the Planning and
Placement Team recognizes the impact of the absences and considers alternatives. Additional
Resources from the State Department of Education:
Chronic absence and truancy are not interchangeable terms. They describe different aspects of the absence problem and require different approaches. Truancy is a term that generally refers to unexcused absences. Chronic absence, on the other hand, incorporates all absences: excused, unexcused absences, and suspensions and expulsions served.
Good attendance is essential to student achievement! Research shows that absences add up and that good attendance is essential to student achievement and graduation. Whereas, chronic absence and truancy can be lead to school drop-out, academic failure and juvenile delinquency. By removing barriers to attendance, districts, schools and community partners can improve attendance.
RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION
There are laws in Connecticut regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Additional resources and guidance from the State Department of Education:
- Understanding the Laws and Regulations Governing the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in Schools (2018)
- Parental Notification of the Laws Relating to Seclusion and Restraint in the Public Schools (2015)
- Guidance related to Recent Legislation Regarding Restraint and Seclusion in Schools (2015)
- Guidance related to legislation regarding restraint and seclusion in schools (2018)
SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION
Connecticut has laws related to how suspensions and expulsions are supposed to be handled. In general, students in second grade and below are must not be suspended out of school or expelled, except in some extreme situations that are sexual or violent in nature. All students are expected to serve their suspension in school unless they have caused serious bodily harm or brought drugs or weapons to school. Additionally, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act has specific processes for students with disabilities who may face extended suspension or expulsion. The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has created the following resources on this topic for families:
- WHEN A CHILD IS SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL A FACT SHEET FOR CONNECTICUT FAMILIES (ENGLISH/ESPAÑOL)
- WHEN A CHILD IS EXPELLED FROM SCHOOL A FACT SHEET FOR CONNECTICUT FAMILIES (ENGLISH/ESPAÑOL)
The Parent's Guide to Special Education in Connecticut (2021) says:
"Code of student conduct applies to all students, including special education students. Unless an emergency exists, your child has the right to an informal hearing by the school administration before being suspended or removed from their education program. Your child should be informed of the reasons for the disciplinary action at this time and given an opportunity to explain the situation."
Does my child have the right to receive educational services during a suspension from school? Suspension means an exclusion from school privileges or from transportation services for no more than 10 consecutive school days. Exclusion means any denial of public school privileges to a pupil for disciplinary reasons. Removal means an exclusion from classroom for all or part of a single period, provided such exclusion shall not extend beyond 90 minutes. Exclusion from a classroom beyond 90 minutes constitutes a suspension. Expulsion is defined as any exclusion from school privileges for more than 10 days in one calendar year. More information is available in the guidelines on out of school suspension and the standards for educational opportunities for students who are expelled.
Removal of up to 10 consecutive school days in any school year:
If your child has violated the school district’s discipline code, he/she may be suspended for a period not to exceed 10 consecutive school days. The length of the removal must be comparable to the length of the removal that would be applied to nondisabled student who breaks the same rule. The school district is not required to provide services if the removal does not exceed 10 consecutive school days in the same school year and if the school district does not provide services to a student without a disability who has been suspended from school for removals that do not exceed 10 consecutive school days in the same school year.
Removal of more than 10 school days in a school year: Change in Placement
If in the same school year, your child has been subjected to a series of short-term removals that add up to more than 10 school days in a school year, school personnel must decide whether the removals constitute a change in placement. A change in placement occurs if:
- the removal is for more than 10 consecutive school days; or
- the student has been subjected to a series of removals that constitute a pattern:
- the series of removals total more than 10 school days in a school year;
- the student's behavior is substantially similar to the student's behavior in previous incidents that resulted in the series of removals; and
- additional factors such as the length of each removal, the total amount of time the student has been removed, and the proximity of the removals to one another.
Determination that removals do not constitute a change in placement:
If school personnel decide that a series of removals for more than 10 school days in a school year do not constitute a change in placement, school personnel, in consultation with one of your child’s teachers, determine the extent to which education services are needed to enable your child to continue to participate in the general curriculum and to progress toward meeting the goals set out for your child in their IEP. The student shall receive, as appropriate, a functional behavior assessment and behavioral intervention services and modification that are developed to address the behavior so that it does not recur.
Determination that removals are a change in placement:
If school personnel determine that the series of short-term removals is a change of placement, your child’s PPT determines the appropriate educational services to enable your child to continue to participate in the general education curriculum and to progress toward meeting the goals in the IEP.
Is my child protected from being disciplined for behaviors related to their disability?
If it is determined by you and relevant members of the PPT that the behavior that your child engaged in was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to your child’s disability, or that the behavior was the direct result of the school district’s failure to implement the IEP, then your child may not be removed from the current educational placement (except in the case of weapons, drugs, or infliction of serious bodily injury). Additionally, the PPT must conduct a functional behavioral assessment, if one has not been done, and implement a behavioral intervention plan or review an existing one and modify it, as necessary, to address the behavior and return the student to the placement from which the student was removed, unless the parent and the school district agree to a change in placement as part of the modification of the behavior intervention plan. If the group determines that your child’s disability did not cause your child’s behavior, your child may be disciplined as any other student, except that the school district must continue to provide services to enable your child to progress in the general curriculum and to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals set out in their IEP.
This determination of the relationship between your child’s behavior and your child's disability is referred to as the manifestation determination. Within 10 school days of the decision to change the placement of a student with a disability, a manifestation determination must be made.
If you disagree with the manifestation determination, you have the right to initiate due process. Your child will remain in the disciplinary placement pending the decision of the hearing officer or until the expiration of the time period imposed for the misconduct, whichever comes first, unless you and school district agree otherwise.
Removal for up to 45 school days for offenses involving weapons, drugs, serious bodily injury or danger to self or others:
The school district may place your child in an interim alternative education setting (IAES) for up to 45 school days, whether or not the behavior is found to be a manifestation of your child’s disability, if your child:
- carries a weapon to school or a school function, or is in possession of a weapon in school or at a school function;
- knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs, or sells or solicits the sale of controlled substances while at school or a school function; or
- inflicts serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, or at a school function.
Additionally, a hearing officer may place your child in an IAES if the hearing
officer determines that keeping your child in the current placement is substantially
likely to result in an injury to your child or to others.
If your child is placed in an IAES for up to 45 school days, the child must receive necessary services to enable the child to continue to participate in the general curriculum and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the child’s IEP and, if appropriate, a functional behavioral assessment, behavioral intervention services and modifications that are designed to address the behavior violation so that it does not recur. Placement in an IAES for matters that relate to drugs, weapons, serious bodily injury is made by the PPT. For matters related to the safety of your child or others, a hearing officer determines the IAES. Your consent is not required, but you may initiate due process if you disagree with the school district’s decision to place your child in an IAES. If you initiate due process, your child will remain in the IAES pending the outcome of the due process proceedings or the expiration of the time for which your child was placed in that setting, whichever occurs first."
Guidance and Resources
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has provided the following guidance and resources on the topic of behavior and discipline:
- Dear Colleague Letter on Implementation of IDEA Discipline Provisions (July 19, 2022)
- Carta de estimado colega sobre la implementación de las disposiciones de disciplina de IDEA (19 de julio de 2022)
- QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES AND IDEA’S DISCIPLINE PROVISIONS
- Preguntas y respuestas: Abordar las necesidades de los niños con discapacidades y las disposiciones disciplinarias de IDEA. (19 de julio de 2022)
- Positive, Proactive Approaches to Supporting Children with Disabilities: A Guide for Stakeholders (July 19, 2022)
- Enfoques positivos y proactivos para apoyar a los niños con discapacidades: Una guía para las partes interesadas (19 de julio de 2022)
- Dear Colleague Letter on the Inclusion of Behavioral Supports in the Individualized Education Program (2016)
- OSEP Director and the Center for Parent Information and Resources Address Why Informal Removals Matter
- Positive Supports for Behavior and Discipline Resource Database (FREE)
- Supporting Students with Disabilities and Avoiding the Discriminatory Use of Student Discipline under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and an accompanying Fact Sheet.