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Article by Jennifer E. Levy, Esq.

According to Federal Law, any time a child with a disability is asked to leave the school, that child is suspended. This is true even if the school fails to document this properly or fails to label it as a suspension. This could be because the school does not know the law or because they want to avoid the paperwork and the possible consequences of suspending a child with an IEP.

Let me be clear; they are not being nice by sending your child home without calling it a suspension; they are simply avoiding confrontation with you as a parent. However, the impact of what they are doing legally is a suspension. 

Most of the time, when a kid is suspended from school, it is because they are exhibiting a behavior that is disruptive to the functioning of a classroom, and the school itself does not have the staffing and/or expertise to deal with it. However, all behavior is communication. If a child acts out in a disruptive, disrespectful, and/or harmful way, that child may not be getting serviced properly. It is possible that the child’s IEP is not being adhered to or needs an IEP that addresses these concerns. It’s also possible that the child does not even have an IEP and desperately needs one.  

The child’s placement may be in the wrong class; the child needs a smaller class that runs at a different pace. It’s possible the child is not being supported during transitions to and from classes or during lunch/recess. It is possible that the child needs a Functional Behavioral Assessment to address issues and a plan to be created as a result. I would call for an IEP meeting to address these issues rather than continue to be the passive recipient of endless phone calls to pick up your child. 

If you are concerned that your district or school is not supporting your child and suspending your child for their non-violent behavior, you can also contact Jennifer Levy at Raff and Raff. As a former principal and teacher, she is not only an attorney but a Mom to a special needs student. She can help you. Call today at  (973) 742-1917 or email her at to set up a consultation appointment. 

All children must be free to learn, so they must be in a setting where they can thrive academically and behaviorally. Our kids aren’t mean, spiteful, or purposefully disobedient; they tell us they need something more. We are our children’s best advocates. Call Raff and Raff today to let us help you help your child succeed!

DISCLAIMER: If your child physically assaulted another person in school or brought a weapon to school, this was not addressed in this post, but you absolutely need to contact us BEFORE speaking with the school.  These are issues that can require real legal expertise, and I would not recommend ever handling them on your own.