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Definitions Regarding Discipline of Special Education Students

Selected Definitions (See OSEP Data Dictionary for Additional Definitions)

Dangerous Weapon – A weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such a term does NOT include a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2½ inches in length (18 U.S.C. Section 930(g)(2)).

Disciplinary Removal – Any instance in which a child is removed from his/her educational placement for disciplinary purposes, including in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, expulsion, removal by school personnel to an interim alternative educational setting for drug or weapon offenses or serious bodily injury, and removal by hearing officer for likely injury to self or others.

Drug Offenses – The use, possession, sale, or solicitation of drugs as identified in 21 U.S.C. Section 812(c).  These offenses do NOT include use, possession, sale, or solicitation of alcohol or tobacco.

Expulsion – An action taken by the local educational agency removing a child from his/her regular school for disciplinary purposes for the remainder of the school year or longer in accordance with local educational agency policy.  This includes removals resulting from violations of the Gun Free Schools Act that are modified to less than 365 days.

In-School Suspension – Instances in which a child is temporarily removed from his/her regular classroom(s) for disciplinary purposes but remains under the direct supervision of school personnel.  Direct supervision means school personnel are physically in the same location as students under their supervision.

Interim Alternative Educational Setting An appropriate setting determined by the child’s IEP team in which the child is placed for no more than 45 school days.  This setting enables the child to continue to receive educational services and participate in the general education curriculum (although in another setting) and to progress toward meeting the goals set out in the IEP.  As appropriate, the setting includes a functional behavioral assessment and behavioral intervention services and modifications to address the behavior violation so that it does not recur.

Out-of-School SuspensionInstances in which a child is temporarily removed from his/her regular school for disciplinary purposes to another setting (e.g., home, behavior center).  This includes both removals in which no IEP services are provided because the removal is 10 days or less as well as removals in which the child continues to receive services according to his/her IEP.

Removal by a Hearing Officer – Those instances in which an impartial hearing officer orders the removal of children with disabilities from their current educational placement to an appropriate alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days based on the hearing officer’s determination that maintaining the child’s current placement is substantially likely to result in injury to the child or others.  The IEP team is responsible for determining the interim alternative educational setting.

Serious Bodily Injury – A bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death; extreme physical pain; protracted and obvious disfigurement; or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or faculty (18 U.S.C. Section 1365(3)(h)).

Unilateral Removal – Instances in which school personnel (not the IEP team) order the removal of children with disabilities from their current educational placement to an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days.  The IEP team is responsible for determining the interim alternative educational setting.  Unilateral removals do NOT include decisions by the IEP team to change a student’s placement.