Sometimes, a school is allowed to suspend or expel a student with a disability. But before they do that, they must have done whatever they can to fix the problem that the problem that might lead them to suspend or expel the student.
Suspending and expelling students should be a last resort. This means that schools must try very hard to support you properly before this happens.
The most common reason schools give for suspending or expelling a student is for “bad behaviour”. Unfortunately, teachers aren’t always given a lot of training in disabilities. This means they often don’t know what to do when a student gets upset or angry.
Behaviour a student might get in trouble for includes:
Hitting other students
Sometimes a student might be showing some of these behaviours because they are not getting the right support. In these examples, the school should bring in professionals or parents to help the school address these behaviours.
Students usually show the behaviours listed above because they are distressed or upset.
For example, a student with Autism Spectrum Disorder may become distressed if:
There is a change in routine and they have not been told
There is too much noise
They are teased by other students
They don’t have the language to talk about what is wrong.
In these examples, it is up to the school to do everything they can to fix these problems, rather than suspend or expel a student. For example, they could get help from a psychologist or autism expert to make sure the school environment is positive for the student. They can develop a Positive Behaviour Plan and involve the student, his parent or advocate in that plan.
There are many things a school can do before suspension or expulsion, and they must do those things first. If you have been suspended or expelled, there are things you can do.
The Department of Human Services wanted Brendan to go to a special school. But Brendan wanted to go to a local high school like his foster brother. So Brendan asked an advocate to help him stand up for his rights.