The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does more than help to ensure that all children with special needs receive a proper and adequate education. It also helps to ensure that if special needs students have disciplinary issues, they are given access to a fair due process hearing under certain circumstances.
IDEA insists that schools conduct a process called a manifestation determination review when special needs students are accused of certain kinds of disciplinary behaviors. This particular review process is meant to determine whether or not the child's disability is linked to the behavior(s) that he or she is accused of. The process ultimately helps to protect special needs kids from being unduly punished for behaviors directly linked to their disabilities.
Schools are only required to conduct these reviews under certain circumstances. For example, if a child is being disciplined in ways that do not alter his or her placement in school and is only being removed from the classroom for fewer than 10 consecutive days of school, a review need not occur.
Reviews must occur however, when a child's placement is altered due to a code of student conduct violation. Members of the child's individual educational program team are involved in the review process.
When manifestation determination reviews do occur, parents generally may both consult an attorney experienced in matters of special education and may bring that attorney to the review. That attorney may then help to ensure that all of the child's rights under IDEA and other laws are properly respected.