New Guidance Released on School Discipline and Students with Disabilities


July 19, 2022, Washington, DC- The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released new guidance documents designed to clarify use of disciplinary practices in schools for students with disabilities and provided resources to schools regarding their obligations under federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination and ensure that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The guidance addresses obligations for school personnel, contractors, and school resource officers/police regarding the use of exclusionary disciplinary practices such as expulsion, suspension (including informal removals), seclusion, and restraints. The documents also provide guidance on IDEA’s discipline procedures, making reasonable modifications to disciplinary policies for students with disabilities, and administering student discipline in a nondiscriminatory manner.


The OCR/OSERS guidance packages included clarifications and access for schools and districts to resources/technical assistance in the use of evidence-based practices on the following:

  • Nondiscrimination requirements under Section 504 and IDEA

  • A student with a disability’s right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and clarification students with disabilities cannot be disciplined for behavior due to their disability regardless of nature or severity

  • Section 504 legal requirements apply to contractors including school resource officers/police

  • Students' rights and access to FAPE in the LRE and how it applies if threat assessments/violence risk assessments are used by a school or district

  • Definition of informal removals (IR), and what constitutes an IR/shortened school day

  • Urges ending the use of seclusion and restraint (S/R), which are not evidence-based interventions

Read the documents here:

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