Special Education & Discipline

School discipline is different in special education. There is more protection. School discipline is different in special education. There is more protection

Generally, students can be suspended for up to 10 days in a school year.

Schools offer extra lessons to make up for missed instruction and services after the 10th day of suspension.

Example of Suspension: The school calls Mary’s mother every day at 10:00 a.m. and asks her to take Mary home. This is a suspension. Mary is being sent home without lessons for most of the day. Mary’s mom should request lessons at home or an IEP meeting to arrange things so Mary can stay at school.

Alternative Placements
An Alternative Placement is like a temporary transfer.

If a parent does not agree, then students can only be transferred for 45 days if they cause bodily injury, or are accused of a drug offense or a weapon offense at school.

An Alternative Placement is for 45 days unless the school gets permission to make it longer.

Students cannot be expelled for anything that is an manifestation of a disability.

The disabilities are listed at the top of the IEP.

The IEP team must meet to determine whether an offense is an expression of a disability.

You should ask your attorney to attend this IEP meeting.

If it is not an expression of a disability, then the school can recommend expulsion to the school district.

The school district has to offer enough services to expelled students for them to complete their IEP.

Example of Suspension: John has a mental disability. John is in the ninth grade. A student begins pushing John around. John threatens to stab the student with his pencil. Expulsion is suggested. His IEP team meets. It is an expression of a disability. His mother wants him
to stay at home for a little while. The school stops the request for expulsion. After 45 days at home, the teachers want John to stay at home. John’s mother wants him to go back to school. John gets to go back to school.

Due Process

Suspension: If the school does not take care of the problem at the IEP meeting, then you can request a due process hearing.

Alternative Placement: The school can ask for a due process hearing if it wants the transfer to last longer. The parent can request a due process hearing if the parent disagrees with the transfer.

Expulsion: The parent can request a due process hearing if the parent disagrees with the decision of the IEP team.

Due Process Hearings: Special education due process hearings require evidence and witnesses. You should have an attorney.

Expulsion Hearings: The student has regular due process rights but the hearing is informal.

Education Cases Accepted:

  • Access to Education
  • Access to School Records
  • Bullying/Harassment
  • Individualized Education Plans (IEP)
  • School Attendance
  • School Enrollment & Fees
  • School Record Disputes
  • Special Education
  • Suspensions/Expulsions
Other Legal Representation

  • Consumer & Bankruptcy
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Housing
  • Migrant Farm Workers
  • Probate
  • Public Benefits

Additional information may be found at:
South Carolina’s guide to free legal resources

This brochure was prepared by South Carolina Legal Services and is provided as a public service.
Copyright retained by South Carolina Legal Services
Printed January 2010


South Carolina Legal Services is a statewide law firm that provides civil legal services to protect the rights and represent the interests of low-income South Carolinians.


All low-income South Carolinians will have full and fair access to justice.

Contact Us

Apply Online

Download PDF